Throughout April the battalion suffered incredible physical privations caused by the record-breaking cold and snow and by the heavy shelling. For twelve days we lay in holes where at any moment a shell might put us out. For the next several days he hid in a hole too small for his body, with the body of a friend, now dead, huddled in a similar hole opposite him, and less than six feet away. Having endured such experiences in January, March, and April, Owen was sent to a series of hospitals between May 1 and June 26, because of severe headaches.
He thought them related to his brain concussion, but they were eventually diagnosed as symptoms of shell shock, and he was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh to become a patient of Dr. Brock, the associate of Dr. Rivers, the noted neurologist and psychologist to whom Siegfried Sassoon was assigned when he arrived six weeks later. He had worshipped Keats and later Shelley during adolescence; during his two years at Dunsden he had read and written poetry in the isolated evenings at the vicarage; in Bordeaux, the elderly symbolist poet and pacifist writer Laurent Tailhade had encouraged him in his ambition to become a poet.
Also in France in and he probably read and studied the works of novelist and poet Jules Romains, who was experimenting with pararhyme and assonance. While he was stationed in London in and , he found stimulation in discussions with another older poet, Harold Monro, who ran the Poetry Bookshop, a meeting place for poets; and in , he read Rupert Brooke, William Butler Yeats , and A. Owen was developing his skill in versification, his technique as a poet, and his appreciation for the poetry of others, especially that of his more important contemporaries, but until he was not expressing his own significant experiences and convictions except in letters to his mother and brother.
Brock, and the coincidental arrival of Siegfried Sassoon brought forth the poet and the creative outpouring of his single year of maturity. Before Sassoon arrived at Craiglockhart in mid-August, Dr. Brock encouraged Owen to edit the hospital journal, the Hydra , which went through twelve issues before Owen left.
When Sassoon arrived, it took Owen two weeks to get the courage to knock on his door and identify himself as a poet. At that time Owen, like many others in the hospital, was speaking with a stammer.
By autumn he was not only articulate with his new friends and lecturing in the community but was able to use his terrifying experiences in France, and his conflicts about returning, as the subject of poems expressing his own deepest feelings. He experienced an astonishing period of creative energy that lasted through several months, until he returned to France and the heavy fighting in the fall of By the time they met, Owen and Sassoon shared the conviction that the war ought to be ended, since the total defeat of the Central Powers would entail additional destruction, casualties, and suffering of staggering magnitude.
In and both found their creative stimulus in a compassionate identification with soldiers in combat and in the hospital.
In spite of their strong desire to remain in England to protest the continuation of the war, both finally returned to their comrades in the trenches. By the time Sassoon arrived, his first volume of poetry, The Old Huntsman , which includes some war poems, had gained wide attention, and he was already preparing Counter-Attack , which was to have an even stronger impact on the English public.
In the weeks immediately before he was sent to Craiglockhart under military orders, Sassoon had been the center of public attention for risking the possibility of court martial by mailing a formal protest against the war to the War Department. Further publicity resulted when he dramatized his protest by throwing his Military Cross into the River Mersey and when a member of the House of Commons read the letter of protest before the hostile members of the House, an incident instigated by Bertrand Russell in order to further the pacifist cause.
Sassoon came from a wealthy and famous family. He had been to Cambridge, he was seven years older than Owen, and he had many friends among the London literati. I simply sit tight and tell him where I think he goes wrong. If their views on the war and their motivations in writing about it were similar, significant differences appear when one compares their work. In the poems written after he went to France in Sassoon consistently used a direct style with regular and exact rhyme, pronounced rhythms, colloquial language, a strongly satiric mode; and he also tended to present men and women in a stereotypical manner.
In his war poems, whether ideological, meditative, or lyrical, Owen achieved greater breadth than Sassoon did in his war poetry. Even in some of the works that Owen wrote before he left Craiglockhart in the fall of , he revealed a technical versatility and a mastery of sound through complex patterns of assonance, alliteration, dissonance, consonance, and various other kinds of slant rhyme—an experimental method of composition which went beyond any innovative versification that Sassoon achieved during his long career.
While Owen wrote to Sassoon of his gratitude for his help in attaining a new birth as poet, Sassoon did not believe he had influenced Owen as radically and as dramatically as Owen maintained. My encouragement was opportune, and can claim to have given him a lively incentive during his rapid advance to self-revelation. Knowing these important writers made Owen feel part of a community of literary people—one of the initiated. The tugs have left me. I feel the great swelling of the open sea taking my galleon. In May , on leave in London, he wrote his mother: I am old already for a poet, and so little is yet achieved.
By May Owen regarded his poems not only as individual expressions of intense experience but also as part of a book that would give the reader a wide perspective on World War I. In a table of contents compiled before the end of July Owen followed a loosely thematic arrangement. Next to each title he wrote a brief description of the poem, and he also prepared in rough draft a brief, but eloquent, preface, in which he expresses his belief in the cathartic function of poetry. As they wrote their historically oriented laments or elegies for those fallen in wars, they sought to comfort and inspire readers by placing the deaths and war itself in the context of sacrifice for a significant cause.
Even the officer with whom he led the remnant of the company to safety on a night in October and with whom he won the Military Cross for his action later wrote to Blunden that neither he nor the rest of the men ever dreamed that Owen wrote poems. He was bitterly angry at Clemenceau for expecting the war to be continued and for disregarding casualties even among children in the villages as the Allied troops pursued the German forces.
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He did not live long enough for this indignation or the war experiences of September and October to become part of his poetry, although both are vividly expressed in his letters. In October Owen wrote of his satisfaction at being nominated for the Military Cross because receiving the award would give him more credibility at home, especially in his efforts to bring the war to an end.
Lieutenant J. Owen took command and led the men to a place where he held the line for several hours from a captured German pill box, the only cover available. The pill box was, however, a potential death trap upon which the enemy concentrated its fire.
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By morning the few who survived were at last relieved by the Lancashire Fusiliers. I was content to follow him with the utmost confidence. Stung by the scorn of Denethor, Pippin enters the service of the Steward as repayment of a debt he owes to Boromir , Denethor's dead son and preferred heir. Pippin then meets Beregond , a guard of the Citadel, who tutors him in his duties, and his young son Bergil, who guides him around Minas Tirith.
In the middle of the night, Gandalf returns to their room, frustrated that Faramir has not yet returned. On their way back from Isengard, Aragorn , the king, and his company are met by the Company of Rangers from Arnor in the north the "Grey Company" , led by Elladan and Elrohir , the sons of Elrond, and Halbarad, a leader of Rangers from the North. They had answered the summons of Galadriel to join Aragorn in his cause.
Instead, able to see a new threat to Gondor, he decides to go travel the Paths of the Dead and find the lost army of the undead oathbreakers who dwell under the Dwimorberg, the Haunted Mountain.
These spirits were cursed because they did not help Isildur during the War of the Last Alliance. The company then passes under the Haunted Mountain where they come across the bones of a missing prince of Rohan, who had foolishly ventured on the Paths of the Dead. The company then comes out on the other side of the mountain into the valley of the Morthond River in Gondor and then proceed to the Stone of Erech. There, the Oathbreakers gather around the Grey Company in the middle of the night and resolve to fulfil their oath.
They all then ride east to the great port of Pelargir and vanish into the storm of Mordor. They enter the upper hold of Dunharrow via a narrow switchback path where they see old "Pukel-Men" sculptures guarding the turns. Finally Dernhelm, one of the Rohirrim, secretly takes Merry up on his horse so that he can accompany the rest of the Rohirrim.
Back in Minas Tirith, Pippin is now clad in the uniform of the tower guard and watches the fortunes of war unfold. Faramir , Boromir's younger brother, returns from his campaign with the shattered remnants of his company from Ithilien where he reveals that he has met Frodo and Sam and allowed them to continue on their mission. When Gandalf hears that they are heading for Cirith Ungol, he becomes afraid, and Denethor becomes angry at Faramir for what he thinks was a foolish decision. The next day, Denethor orders Faramir to ride out and continue the hopeless defence of Osgiliath against a horde of orcs.
Wilfred Owen | Poetry Foundation
Osgiliath is soon overrun and a gravely wounded Faramir is carried back to Denethor. Denethor then descends into madness as the hosts of Mordor press ever closer to Gondor's capital city of Minas Tirith, burning the Pelennor Fields and then the first circle of the city. His people seemingly lost and his only remaining son all but dead, Denethor orders a funeral pyre built that is to claim both him and his dying son.
A fearful Pippin witnesses all this and runs down to the first circle to find Gandalf. There, the hosts of Mordor, led by the dreaded Witch-king of Angmar , have succeeded in breaking through the gates of Minas Tirith—using a terrifying battering ram named Grond, and only Gandalf is left sitting on his horse Shadowfax to oppose him.
Just as the Witch-king raises his sword to strike the wizard, the horns of Rohan can be heard coming to the aid of Gondor.