‘Apologia Pro Poemate Meo’ – Wilfred Owen
‘Apologia Pro Poemate Meo’ deals with the atrocities of World War I. The poem conveys the battle between good and evil, both within the soldiers themselves and war as a whole. This poem gives insight into Owen’s intent to criticise the people who persuade the soldiers to sign up.
By starting the poem with ‘I’, Owen indicates this is a personal poem similar to ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ and ‘The Dead Beat’ but unlike these poems, it is not inspired by personal events. Yet like ‘The Send Off’ and ‘Spring Offensive’ , this poem encapsulates a note of prophecy and appears to have an exolted tone as through all the horrors of the war, the soldiers managed to ‘give their laughs more glee than shakes a child.’
This pure love and pure horror expressed in this poem is mutually exclusive. Paradoxically, maybe war is where true love is found at its best. The paradox ‘when wretches smiled’ implies that the men managed to still smile in the midst of the war due to comradeship which transcends the horrors of the war. Semantic fields of spirituality visible in ‘Apologia Pro Poemate Meo’ suggests that ironically this love and spirituality could be found amidst the horror.
Owen starts the second stanza with an ironic ‘merry.’ The war front was not a happy place, but a place filled with intense pain and death. In the next line Owen exposes reality of how ‘death becomes absurd and life absurder’ and how soldiers lost all morality and became desensitised as they felt no ‘remorse of murder.’ The soldiers were trained to be mindless tools of their government as they did what they were ordered to do without questioning the morality of what they were instructed to do.
Owen personifies fear as something which can be ‘dropped off’. Fear can be paralysing which can be disastrous for a soldier. ‘Behind the barrage, dead as my platoon’ is a simile used to emphasise how the speaker is as dead mentally as his comrades who have all...