The sample essay on Spring Offensive Poem deals with a framework of research-based facts, approaches, and arguments concerning this theme. To see the essay’s introduction, body paragraphs and conclusion, read on.
Owen’s presentation of nature is ambiguous. Through his poems he acknowledges the beauty and purity of nature on one hand, while on the other it is presented as cruel and subversive when associated with war. These two very different sides of nature are best portrayed in Exposure in 1917, Futility and Spring Offensive in 1918.
To begin, Owen describes the natural world as beautiful, restorative and protective. His references to beauty of nature and the recurring theme of the sun clearly shows how Owen is somewhat in awe of nature.
In the 3 first stanzas of Spring Offensive, Owen describes nature with such charm that the soldiers waiting to go into action are “marveling” at the grass, at nature’s purity. They can hardly believe such beauty exists amongst pain and suffering.
The ‘May breeze’ calms them as they feel the pleasing ‘“summer oozed into their veins like an injected drug”. In this imagery we feel that this beauty is like a drug to them, they are under such pressure that they require anesthetic. “oozed” implies that they are grateful for a moment to remember happier times.
Nature is thought to have restorative power. An example of this is apparent in ‘Futility’. The poem is about a soldier (the speaker) who cannot believe that his comrade has died of the bitterly cold.
In the very first line he says: “Move him into the sun”. The sun is considered at the source of all life, so the poet asks for the resurrection of the soldier. Having seen the sun “wake the seeds” once, he asks himself why it prohibits itself from doing so again. A different interpretation would be that god is actually the sun itself, because as the bible says it is he who is at the very origin of life.
Nature also appears as a protective figure. In ‘Spring offensive’ it creates ‘shade’ as a barrier from the horror, made to provide respite. The pastoral imagery of the ‘little brambles’ clinging on to the men ‘like sorrowing arms’ suggest that nature is a sorrowing force, it is transforming into a maternal figure. We find the same shielding figure in the sun, in Futility. Using the personification: “The kind old sun”, Owen presents the sun as a caring paternal figure, “old” evokes its wiseness. This again can be interpreted as a personification of god.
The war has the ability to transform the natural world. The clearest example of this would be the very title of “Spring Offensive”, using this oxymoron Owen contrasts the new life in the world at spring, the season of love, with the imminent death that will automatically arise from the offensive. This “natural world” is wasted. And seeing all this horror perhaps it has decided to revolt against the men who are participating to the massacre. Therefore not helping them through it, which makes nature cruel and cowardly because they have not decided such a fate for themselves.
Spring Offensive follows the revolt of nature as it goes from a benevolent and somewhat sheltering force to a more aggressive force that ‘burns with fury against them’. Nature is so disgusted at the unnaturalness of the soldiers action that it initially seeks to stop them- everything from the sky and its ‘cold gust thrill’ to the smallest buttercup that once ‘blessed with gold’ now is ‘set sudden cups in thousands for their blood’. This all encompassing metaphor of nature possibly representing god creates an intense atmosphere. The syntax of the poem also reflects motif and nature, the regular rhyme scheme together with the use of perfect rhyme gives it an almost liquid flow.
Nature also appears to be insurgent in Futility. At the end of the poem as the sun refuses to use its power help the man, the speaker realizes how useless, pointless and hopeless the sun is and how it does not have enough will to wake his friend.
The sun has been worshiped by countless communities and generations, yet it is letting the men down. The sun is qualified as a “cold star”, it has all these powers but is not being generous and giving warmth. “Are limbs, so dear attached, are sides full-nerved, still warm, too hard to stir?” In this quote the narrator is looking at the body and decides that it is easy for the sun (which may be god) to save this man but yet it doesn’t do it which drives the author to loose faith in god and humanity itself.
Cold star could be dead body itself, clay would be his body
Cold star could be earth at the begining, the earth full of life
clay= earth walls of trenches?
This revolt brings out nature’s cruelity, this side of nature is very well portrayed in Exposure. This poem is about exposed men away from battle slowly freezing to death. In Exposure, the weather and nature are personified as assassins. Despite portraying the conditions of war as vicious, Owen’s language is quite soft on the ear, being abundant with sibilance and repeated ‘f’ sounds (e.g. “flowing flakes that flock”). The use of delicate sounding words could be to show how the weather can be a silent or covert assassin.
The first image we are given is of the ‘merciless iced wind that knive us’. ‘Merciless’ suggests that the wind is vindictive and without compassion, whilst ‘knive’ is a violent action, implying that the attacker is inflicting pain. From the outset, the ‘personality’ of the weather is established as an enemy.
In stanza three, Owen writes of “Dawn massing in the east her melancholy army”. By personifying ‘dawn’ or nature as a woman, Owen is pointing out that mother nature has turned against them, the maternal, compassionate image of a woman has been subverted. In this poem, Owen is definitely using subversion to show how war defies expectations.
The stillness of slowly freezing to death becomes a counterpoint to the progressive verbs in the poem: “watching,” “twitching,” “massing,” “shivering,” “wandering,” “fingering,” “shrivelling,” “puckering,” and, finally, “dying.” As in other Owen poems such as “Greater Love” and “Arms and the Boy,” the occasional attractive word such as “nonchalance” is used ironically to depict the carelessness of the wind as it tosses snowflakes around and “knives” the soldiers.
Unlike English poets Sir Philip Sidney or Percy Bysshe Shelley, Owen does not see poets as teachers or “unacknowledged legislators.” He says, “all a poet can do today is warn; that is why the true Poets must be truthful.” Owen strives for the aching cold of truthfulness in “Exposure” as the poem exposes the reader to the cold indifference of nature and nature’s God.
“Be bullied, be outraged, be killed, but do not kill.” This quote once written by Wilfred Owen could relate to the way he despises nature’s attitude. To my opinion the poet loves nature greatly, he believes it is beautiful and pure. Yet the war has highly disgusted nature who subsequently decides to rebel against it using violence and cruelty resulting in the dehumanization of the soldiers.