Disabled - Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Edward Owen was an English poet, a soldier and one of the leading poet during the period of World War I. with his first hand experience of war he could create a shocking realistic picture at war front in his poetry.
The poem Disabled shows horrors of war in a different manner. He draws a picture of a disabled and crippled veteran who has returned from the war. Through the whole poem he shows a contrast between the disabled person’s life before and after the war. The horrors of war have turned him into a cripple. It is clearly evident the trauma of the disabled man as a result of the war. There is pity evoked towards the ex-soldier. At the same time the reader is made aware of the disenchantment the soldier feels about his treatment by the people.
The poem seems more realistic and personal as it portrays one man’s own experience. The first stanza shows the isolation of the crippled soldier. He seems to be deeply uncomfortable and depressed. The image of life through the boys who are playing in the park gets contrasts with the image of death.
The second stanza deals with the poor soldier’s remembrance of the past. As a young boy how he spent the time with pretty girls. There’s a sense of euphoria/ elation and the romance. But now love has been taken away from him. Owen shows the sense of indifference towards the person because now the girls touch him as if he is having a ‘queer disease.’ Due to that he will never experience love and live life to its fullest ever again.
The third stanza reveals the soldier’s loss of youth, loss of blood and loss of vibrancy of youth. He has become pale. His face is now older than his age. And it becomes more pathetic with the poet’s revelation of the fact that half of the soldier’s lifetime passed due to ‘hot race’ which is war.
The forth stanza brings a huge contrast between the past and the present. The poet juxtaposes the images of a football match with the images of war. Again we see the social indifference. A football goal is more important than fighting for the country. Furthermore the poet reveals another important fact. It is due to the reason of vanity the person joined the army. He wanted to be like a member of Scottish regiment. The person himself is not sure the exact reason for his decision. Moreover it reveals that he was out of senses and it is ironical the fact that he wanted to please his girl friend and other young women by getting reputation being a soldier. Yet the opposite happened. The poet criticizes the institutions also. Actually the person was under aged when he joined the army yet it was not a matter at all.
Then the poet puts in the picture that how this person got attracted to the ‘jeweled hilts’, ‘smart salutes’ , ‘daggers’, ‘Esprit de corps’ at the army and scarcely aware of his enemies and fighting.
In the last stanza again we see the sense of indifference through an individual soldier. The man is troubled by the town’s indifference towards him and the ungratefulness that was shown towards him after he returned from the war. He remembers the past where he enjoyed his life with girls and how they consider him now. The word ‘whole’ suggests the fact that he is no more a complete man. The soldier’s passivity is complete. A fine young athlete has been reduced to a state of dependence on others. Ironically he is now depending on young women to put him to bed, in contrast with pre- war virile manhood when he could expect to be taken women to bed. The poem reveals a different issue of war. Than the crisis of war it shows the crisis of being disabled.
Owen brings out the idea that although the soldiers may return home from war injured or alive their lives will never be the same both physically and mentally as they were prior to war. Owen’s Disabled is a tragedy of disabled soldiers.