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Futility - the Poem Written by Wilfred Owen

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The poem written by Wilfred Owen in compares the contrasting ideas of hope and despair. The poem talks about the fast and unexpected death of a young soldier who died on the battlefield. Owen talks about the quick coming of death, the godlike power of the sun and the point of human life in his poem. His sadistic view makes people feel that life is not worth living, since the end for everyone is ultimately, death.

The abrupt and quick coming of death presented in the poem suggests that human life is rather fragile, and ends quite easily. "Gently its touch awoke him once...until this morning" gives the implication that the soldier is dead. The description of the dead body as "limbs so dear achieved, are sides full nerved, -still warm" suggests the abruptness of the coming of death, and that the reality and truth of the situation has not sunk in. It seems too sudden, too unreal that a fully healthy and breathing body is suddenly not able to move anymore. The still warm and asleep body represents hope, while the fact that it is not able to come back to life or move illustrates the despair. The unmoving body cannot come back to life, no matter how much we hope it could; therefore hope holds no value compared to despair because hope changes nothing.

The humble and overwhelming power of the sun is presented clearly in the poem. The sun is presented as being responsible for all life on earth. The personification of sun in "gently its touch awoke him once" implies that the sun is like a biological clock which kick starts and helps people get through the days. "The kind old sun will know" gives the implication that the sun is like a god, watching over everything on earth. The first stanza mainly circulates around the divine power of the sun, yet in stanza two, the poet is suggesting that the suns' powers are limited, and in the end, it does not have the power to bring people back to life. This portrays the final and undeniable power of death and despair, which even the sun cannot overturn.

Throughout the third stanza of the poem, the poet questions the point and meaning of life. Because death was without miracles and is able to come so quickly, the poet does not understand the point of living. "Was it for this the clay grew tall?" depicts how long it took for humans to grow old and mature, yet the questioning tone of the line illustrates that the poet believes there is hardly any purpose in going through all the stages of life only to die in the end. He further questions the purpose of living at the end of the poem, "O what made fatuous sunbeams toil, to break the earth's sleep at all?" This implies that the speaker sees no point in the sun triggering life on earth, because the ultimate end for everyone is death.

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