Disabled - Annotated - The British School of Bahrain

by Wilfred Owen
Structure 1:
There is rhyme but it is uneven:
Dark / park; grey / day; hymn / him
Trees / knees / disease; dim / slim;
There is also internal rhyme:
Play / day
Why is this important?
This halting and broken rhyming scheme reflects the emotional
state of the soldier who is desolate and damaged by his war
Structure 2:
The poem switches between the soldier’s present and past,
mirroring his memories of happy times juxtaposed with the reality
of what he has sacrificed.
The final stanza focuses on his future and ends with an
exclamation that reflects his utter helplessness.
Stanza 1
Soldier is never named; forgotten
and overlooked; symbolises many
Adjectives: emphasises sadness,
loneliness, isolation of soldier;
strongly contrasted with warmth
of 2nd stanza
He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow.
Sibilance: emphasises his
disability and creates
despondent tone
Implications of
waiting for death
Alliteration: emphasises dreary
clothes; reflects his morbid and
depressed emotion state; formal;
burial attire
Repetition: emphasises the contrast of his
solitude with the cheerful sounds of boys
playing; reminder of joy he has lost
Simile: joyous sounds transform
into connotations of mournful
church songs; like an appeal to
God to stop boys dying in war
Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasures after day,
Alliteration: reinforces sounds of
joy as an antithesis to soldier state
Metaphor: contrasts the emotional comfort
the boys will get at home with the lack of
any comfort the soldier receives; reminds
us that sleep is his only respite
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.
Stanza 2
Personification: emphasises its
importance / significance in the
soldier’s past life
Visual imagery: emphasises
joy and festivity of past life
About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light-blue trees,
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim —
Alliteration: emphasises girls’
beauty; alluring and inviting
Alliteration: links celebratory
atmosphere with flirtations; contrasts
sharply with next part of stanza
Metaphor: implies a needless sacrifice;
reinforced by not being able to remember why
he enlisted, hinting only at distant sense of duty
and euphoria after a football match.
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Physical and psychological
loss: limbs and love
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls’ waists are, or how warm their subtle hands;
Simile: provides sharp contrast of girls’
changed attitudes; he is an abnormality in
their normal lives; they don’t want to be
reminded of tragedy of war
All of them touch him like some queer disease.
Stanza 3
Sibilance: stresses he was handsome and
admired; picture reflected his innocence,
youth and boyhood charm
There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Metaphor: accentuates how the man has
altered and no longer feels his true age; implies
his face is now withered with experience and
sorrow, worn by the ravages of war
Now, he is old; his back will never brace;
Alliteration / Contrast: his previous
immaturity for admiration, with
excessive and tragic maturity
Deliberate, intense understatement
heightens soldiers stoic bravery; no
words could describe the hell he was
in; life has been leached out of him
Deliberate imprecision highlights
unimportance of where the war
was; therefore of general needless
loss of lives in war
He’s lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
Metaphor: shows he has
lost his youth and vitality
Metaphor / Hyperbole:
emphasises massive loss
of blood / lives
Emphasises the
violence of battle
Metaphor / Hyperbole:
emphasises waste
Purple denotes
life and vitality
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race,
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.
Metaphor / Assonance:
stresses horror of injury
Strong verb creates
imagery of wound
Stanza 4
Contrasts blood of wartime
injury with sporting injury
Irony: this injury signals
celebration, implies fiercely
contested achievement, not
One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,
After the matches, carried shoulder-high.
Ironic: also carried from
battlefield when injured
Signed up because he was
drunk on alcohol, pride and
success of football match
It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,
He thought he’d better join. — He wonders why.
Punctuation: short phrases to demonstrate his
thought process (caesura) and actions before
he enlisted; trying to make sense of his choices
Indicates he was a member of a
Scottish regiment; implies that he
joined up for reasons of vanity
Reinforces immaturity and trivial
reasons for enlisting – to impress a girl;
thought he’d looked mature / manly
Someone had said he’d look a god in kilts,
That’s why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg;
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts
Giggly, young girls
Emphasises his bitterness towards
women who now ignore him
Society admired the bravery
of soldiers but without
understanding the realities
Short sentence reminds himself that
no-one forced him to enlist; he
sought glory and recognition
Poet reminds us that no one
try to dissuade him either
He asked to join. He didn't have to beg;
Stanza 5
Verb suggests merciless enlisting of
young men; his youth was obvious;
immoral tactics used by army recruiters
Smiling they wrote his lie; aged nineteen years.
He knew nothing of the war, the reasons for war
or the enemy; reinforces his immaturity / naivety
/ innocence; only thought of honour and glory
Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt,
And Austria’s, did not move him. And no fears
Of Fear came yet.
Personification: emphasises how
intense his terror would become;
too naïve to be afraid
He joined for frivolous reasons;
further hints he joined a
Scottish regiment
Ornamental daggers
Alliteration: emphasises a
positive aspects of army life
He thought of jewelled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
Literally: Spirit of body;
Refers to pride, devotion and
honour of the army
Punctuation: stresses the reasons to
enlist; echoing the propaganda of the
recruiters / army
Rhyme: ‘arrears’ and ‘cheers’
further emphasises positive aspects
of army life
And soon he was drafted out with drums and cheers.
Alliteration: heightens sense of
ceremonial departure; noisy,
joyous parade
Reminiscent of the
football matches he won
Stanza 6
Poet’s comment on how society
treats war heroes; reprimanding
Irony: for doing more than scoring a goal, he is
greeted home with much less celebration; sense
that the public has betrayed the men who fought
for them
Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
People pitied him; returned destroyed, no
longer attractive / admired in the same way;
no-one wanted to see the negative side to war
Referring back to football imagery
– soldier wistful for life before
Probably a
religious man
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.
Duty visit, impersonal;
token appreciation and then
another ‘sales pitch’
Stanza 7
Bleak future ahead
Now, he will spend a few sick years in Institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
The once fine young athlete has been
reduced to a state of dependency and
helplessness; he is completely reliant on
the mercy of others
Personification: emphasising he
will have to obey rules for the rest
of his life; mirroring army life
Reminds reader of how important the loss of his
attractiveness to the women is to him; reinforces the
notion that he will remain alone and isolated
Tonight he noticed how the women’s eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
Was active now he is passive, passed
over by the women; he thinks they are
horrified or embarrassed by his injuries
He is incomplete, less
than a man – physically
and mentally
Exclamation: emphasises strong feeling
of discomfort and frustration
How cold and late it is! Why don't they come
And put him into bed? Why don't they come?
Rhetorical Questions: demonstrate
helplessness and loneliness;
emphasises how much he wishes to
get away for park and memories
Repetition: stresses his helplessness and
frustration by re-establishing how
dependent; he must wait for the orderlies
or nurses; cyclical ending – waiting: or
poet warning other / calling for end of war
/ reinforcements?
Essay is due by email on 22 August – [email protected];
[email protected]; [email protected];
[email protected]
Word Limit: between 800 and 1000 words
Format: A4; TNR14; Margins: 3 cm; Line Spacing: 1.5
Header (top left): Surname, Name; British School of Bahrain;
Centre No: 90306, Candidate No:
Bloggs, Joe
British School of Bahrain
Centre No: 90306
Candidate No: 5555

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