A Few Thoughts/Questions on Owen

My post focuses on “Apologia pro Poemate Meo” (160-1) and “Mental Cases” (170-1).

“Apologia pro Poemate Meo” means “in defense of my poetry.” When I read the first line, “I, too, saw God through mud,” my first thoughts were that the poem was going to be about how he lost some of his poems in the trenches. We discussed that some authors lost their work, so I thought that would be the case here. But as I kept reading, I got the feeling that Owen wrote this poem to emphasize that there were still stories in the trenches: ones that had “poetic” emotion, so to speak. He mentions a lot of poetic tropes in it: death, laughing, “Fear,” friendship, “Joy,” beauty, love, music, and more. Since people censored a lot of WWI works, I can see why Owen wrote this to defend his poetry.

For “Mental Cases,” I had a question for discussion. Owen describes the soldiers in this poem as animalistic, crazed, and demented, but at the beginning of the second stanza, he says “These are men whose minds the Death have ravished.” To me, this hints of PTSD. So, my question is, does this poem dehumanize the soldiers or does it accurately portray symptoms of PTSD?

268 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts/Questions on Owen

  1. I like the poetic tropes that you drew out from the poem Apologia pro Poemate Meo, especially as in a way I didnt even consider these themes, but just read the poem as a defence to the ‘criticism’ he received.
    For ‘Mental Cases’, in answer to your question, I think that I it read as a way to accurately portray what these soldiers were going through. I think he’s perhaps doing so in a purposely ‘bold’ way so that people will actually see the devastating truth of the war rather than just censoring it. But then again that’s just my opinion.

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