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Wilfred Owen 'Disabled'

Discussion in 'English' started by Davebrigg, Dec 29, 2010.

  1. There are three time periods referred to in the poem. You could ask pupils to shade in a different colour references to;
    1. His youth, before he joined the army
    2. When he was injured
    3. The present, disabled and in hospital.
    Quite often these are used as contrasts - the smear of blood on his leg after football compared with the 'purple' blood spurting on the battlefield, or feeling how slim girls' waists were compared with now, when the women touch him like some queer disease.
    Alternatively, split the poem up yourself and ask pupils to sort the lines into three piles in the same way, then find pairs that deal with the same theme. I think it is important that the poem ends with a return to the reality of the present.
  2. jorb

    jorb New commenter

    Thanks everybody - all of those suggestions were really helpful. Does anyone have anysuggestions about how he uses rhythm - I'm never confident on all of that!
  3. sweetie1

    sweetie1 New commenter

    The poem is written mainly in iambic pentameter, which they should (!) be familiar with if they've studied Shakespeare. If you've a fairly able group you could get them counting out the syllables and highlighting the lines which aren't 10 syllables, then asking them why Owen chose to come away from pentameter in those lines. Discuss "feminine" endings - what effect do these have? Also look at whether Owen has come away from the unstressed/stressed pattern anywhere in ten syllable lines - this can cause a lot of debate about which words in the poem are important and brings up lots of alternative meanings/interpretations.
    Incidentally, the BBC series "Wounded" is an excellent modern day parallel to this poem. You can really help students pull out the differences between then and now (particularly with the current Help for Heroes campaign being something teenagers are aware of). There are clips of it on Youtube and various articles on Tom Neath and others are available online. I find using this comparison helps the students to understand fully the socio-historic context and the poets' intentions when studying Owen and Sassoon.


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