Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he That every man in arms should wish to be?

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1 Insensibility

2 100 years before Owen was writing, poet William Wordsworth asked Who is the happy Warrior? Who is he That every man in arms should wish to be? Owen s answer is.. Happy are men who yet before they are killed Can let their veins run cold

3 The poem plays out over six sections, each brief but dense. The first five describe soldiers at war, with the fifth also turning inward to address the speaker and his fellow writers and intellectuals. The sixth shifts to a denunciation of civilians who turn a blind eye to war s devastation.

4 Stanza One Those men who can rid their veins of warmth and who do not let compassion affect them before they die are happy. The front line breaks, and those men are fading troops, not flowers for poets to play with. They are barely men, merely "gaps for filling" and the numbers in the official losses. No one cares about them.

5 Stanza Two Some of them stop feeling any emotion, for themselves or for others. Dullness is the solution for the incessant shelling. It is easier to rely on chance rather than trying to figure out when the shells might fall. They do not even bother trying to assess the destruction of the armies in the war.

6 Stanza Three Those who no longer have an imagination are also happier; imagination is too heavy a weight when they have to carry their packs and ammunition around. Perhaps they are unable to empathise with others and imagine their pain. Old wounds do not ache anymore. They are not even affected by the colour of blood, having seen "all things red" in battle. The pulsing of terror is over. Their senses have been ironed and cauterized, and they are able to laugh even among the dying, completely unfeeling.

7 Stanza Four The soldier at home is happy, as he does not know about the dawn full of attacks. The boy whose mind was never trained is happy as he sings along the march. The march is long and dreary and unceasing, "from larger day to huger night".

8 Stanza Five Those wise soldiers (possibly the poets) cannot think how else to view their task. We hear from the general, who states that they are not overly necessary while alive, and are not valuable when they are dying. They are not sad or prideful or even curious. The speaker wonders how their attitudes are different from "old men's placidity".

9 Stanza Six However, these "dullards" are cursed as they stand like stones before cannons. They are wretched and base. It was their choice to make themselves immune to feeling and pity and the part of man that causes him to moan before the stars. They do not care about what mourns when men die, or what "shares / The eternal reciprocity of tears".

10 Metaphor Sore on the alleys cobbled with their brothers. The men are described as walking on the bodies of their fallen brothers. This brutal image begins the poem to demonstrate how cold and disconnected the soldier become. Brothers also heightens the brutality of their actions are it suggests a close relationship that is so readily discarded.

11 And Chance s strange arithmetic Comes simpler than the reckoning of their shilling. They keep no check on armies decimation. This extended metaphor amplifies the lack of care for themselves that the soldiers feel. They surrender their fate to the personified chance, who crunches the numbers and randomly decides who lives, who dies reckoning of their shillings euphemism for signing up to join the army. The men have lost their moral purpose for fighting.

12 Their senses in some scorching cautery of battle Now long since ironed, This is a particularly grotesque image. To cauterise, involved a red-hot iron being applied to the wound which would destroy flesh in the immediate vicinity and thereby halt the spread of infection, saving life. This suggests that the war has been so damaging, the battles have permanently damaged the imagination of the soldiers and can no longer do anymore damage.

13 March taciturn, because of dusk, The long, forlorn, relentless trend From larger day to huger night This metaphor states that the men are marching toward a huger (or larger) night, perhaps suggesting that the men are marching toward a long death. They move there silently, sadly and relentlessly. There is also a tautology in larger and huge, demonstrating that the war is much larger than anything he can comprehend. Huger is an incorrect superlative, which shows how irregular the day and night, or the feelings of the soldier at war are. He has lost touch with his natural ability to understand the world around him.

14 Pararhyme The pararhyme in the poem create dissonant patterns. Obvious links are killed and cold in stanza one and stuns and stones in stanza six. Some patterns link between verses, as with fooling, filling and feeling (stanzas 1-2). A similar chain exists final stanza with the powerful mean, immune, moans, man and mourns. Just as Owen resists having a neat predictable rhyme scheme in Insensibility, so he makes the line lengths irregular and unsettling. Often there are spare syllables left at the ends of lines (e.g. l.5, 12,15) and the last three lines of stanza 1 are just one example of how Owen uses caesura and enjambment to unsettle the reader.

15 Allusions Both Rupert Brooke s The Soldier and John McCrae s In Flanders Fields, suggest that the fallen soldier will continue to stand with their comrades and will bloom again in the form of flowers ( If I should die, the speaker of The Soldier pleads, think only this of me: / That there s some corner of a foreign field / That is for ever England. The dead in In Flanders Fields, where poppies blow remain so committed to their cause that they shall not sleep if the living betray it. ) In Owen s poem, these fallen are now a burden for the troops sore feet to tread on, But they are troops who fade, not flowers, not flowers in some meadow

16 Other interesting points.. Stanza four moves from the soldiers to the poets who cannot be insensible But through his blunt and lashless eyes? Being imaginative, capable of empathy, Owen puts himself in the place of the dead man. This is where the pararhyme (eyes/his) allows him to express his contempt for the jingoistic generals in England who won t put themselves in his place. This is where the wise poet, who is not insensible to the fate of the single soldier, carries out an assessment of his worth in the voice of one such general: Alive, he is not vital overmuch; Dying, not mortal overmuch; Nor sad, nor proud, Nor curious at all.

17 The general s perception is of a creature suspended between living and dying ; by means of parallelism, he balances the adjectives vital and mortal against each other, thereby suggesting that the me are hardly more valuable alive than dead. For the general, the beauty of the youth is that, being mortally wounded, he is neither sad nor proud. In fact, the doomed youth is as placid as an old man. From the general s point of view, the placid/insensible soldier is dispensable; from the poet s point of view, the soldier might be grateful for his placidity (his insensibility ) for it hardens him, not only against further shell-shock, but also against the greater insensibility of his superiors, safe in London

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