english167-1 - 1 Raffael DeLuca English 167 Lauren Brozovic...

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1 Raffael DeLuca English 167 Lauren Brozovic March 18, 2008 Midterm Paper ASLEEP The First World War was an enduring time for all across the world and nothing encapsulated the dismal atmosphere more than wartime poetry. Wilfred Owen is perhaps the most renowned soldier/poet of WWI and his works deal with the horrors and the realistic life on the battlefield. All of Owen’s poems detail the unfeigned life of a soldier and all the terror that goes along with combat and his 1917 “Asleep” may be his most poetic work of art in this realm. “Asleep” is about a soldier dying on the battlefield during his slumber. The concept seems simple, but the way Owen phrases his stanzas is what really makes the poem beautiful. “Asleep” is an important WWI poem to study and this paper will analyze the deeper meaning behind Wilfred Owen’s words. “Asleep” is comprised of two stanzas with nine and twelve lines respectively. The poem contains many poetic terms and techniques, while series of rhyming tercets make up the entire work. While containing contrasting tones, the two stanzas also differ within prosody. Stanza one seems to follow a trochee scheme while the second verse follows iambic form. The meter and rhythm of the second stanza appears to change into a longer form but is definitely not consistent through out. By doing this, Owen stresses the diction of the poem rather than the general flow of it. Since “Asleep” does not obtain a constant flow through out, Owen uses various sonic effects to deliver his literary message. After the many days of work and waking ,… And soon the slow, stray blood came creeping
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2 From the intrusive lead , like ants on track Whether his deeper sleep lie shaded by the shaking… His hair being one with the grey grass And finished fields of autumns that are old Owen clearly uses a good deal of alliteration throughout “Asleep”, which is also accompanied by assonance at times to enhance the rhyme scheme. Phrases like “shaded by the shaking” and “Confuses more and more with the low mould” really provide evidence for this claim. The poem, “asleep”, has an interesting background story and also the way it was originally written and released. In late 1917, Wilfred Owen took a leave from Craiglockhart Hospital and met with his first cousin and literary confident 1 Leslie Gunston. After meeting with Leslie and “walking back to Winchester alone over the long backs of the downs, he could almost see the dead lying about in the hollows of the
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english167-1 - 1 Raffael DeLuca English 167 Lauren Brozovic...

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