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Poetry & Responsibility$
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Neil Corcoran

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380352

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380352.001.0001

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The Price of Pity

The Price of Pity

Wilfred Owen among the Poets of the First World War

(p.13) Chapter 1 The Price of Pity
Poetry & Responsibility

Neil Corcoran


This chapter offers a reading of Owen, in the context of other, variant approaches to the poetry of war - in Edward Thomas, Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg and Ivor Gurney - as a writer anguished by his conflicting responsibilities as poet and army officer. Individual poems are read with a view to exploring the responsibilities involved in his being a ‘lieu-tenant', one who stands in the place of others. In addition to his military rank, his sexuality is also at issue here: and the poem ‘Futility’ is read as a central document of both his sensibility and his struggles. In these contexts, attention is also given to his radicalisation or subversion of traditional English elegy, making it an influential and paradoxical modern kind.

Keywords:   War, Pity, Owen

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