The poem “Futility” written by Wilfred Owen was an Anti-War poem. It is one of five poems published in Wilfred Owen’s lifetime. It was appeared in ‘The Nation’ in 1918. It is written in the form of a lament for the soldiers who lost their lives in World War 1, which started in 1914 and continued up to 1918. In France, there was a bottle field on which an English Soldier succumbed to fighting. His death was shocking, tragic, and heart-rending. This incident led Owen to write the poem ‘Futility’.
Wilfred Owen was a war poet of the Modern Period. He was regarded in the First World War and was mostly known for his war poetry based on the horror of trench warfare. He was influenced by John Keats and by his mentor ‘Siegfried Sassoon’. Among his best-known poems include – ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, ‘Strange Meeting’, ‘Spring Offensive’ and Dulce Et. Decorum Est.
Themes Wilfred Owen’s Poem
“Futility” is a powerful exploration of the themes of life, death, and the Futility of War. The poem is set in the aftermath of a battle, and the speaker is contemplating the dead body of a soldier. The speaker’s initial hope that the sun might be able to revive the soldier is quickly dashed by the realization that death is inevitable. This realization leads the speaker to question the very meaning of life and he concludes that the act of creation is ultimately futile in the face of death.
The poem is also notable for its use of symbolism. The sun, for example, is a symbol of life and hope, but it is also a reminder of the inevitability of death. The seeds that are “Gently awakened” by the sun are a symbol of the cycle of life and death, but they are also a reminder of the transient nature of life.
In addition to the themes of life, death, and futility, “Futility” also explores the themes:
• The dehumanizing effect of war.
• The psychological impact of war on soldiers.
• The futility of trying to find meaning in death.
Form and StructureOwen’s “Futility” is a 14-line poem, hence, a sonnet. It is divided into two stanzas of seven lines in each. The poem has a unique rhyme scheme of abadccc. Its format is a short elegiac lyric. Source of The Poem FutilityThe poem, “Futility” was first brought out in the year 1920. Several battles were fought in the First World War, which started in 1914. In France, there was a battlefield on which an English soldier succumbed to fighting. His death was shocking and tragic. This incident led Wilfred Owen to write the poem, “Futility”. The poem is taken from the volume “Collected Poems” published in 1920.
About The Title of The “Futility” Poem
The title of the poem, “Futility” can be justified variously. The word ‘Futility’ means uselessness. The poem exposes the uselessness of the creation of life by the sun while many a life ends so carelessly in war before its time. In another sense, we find in war nothing glorious, nothing noble, and even nothing praiseworthy. It results only in the huge loss of life. So war is futile.
On the other hand, the poet speaks about the futility of the work of the sun to bring life of Birth. The sun is the great giver of life. Sunbeams are the source of energy that mold the earth with the thrill of life. But the poet thinks that the sun’s effort has been fruitless or futile as wars kill millions of young people before they can manifest into meaningful existence. This justifies the title of the poem, “Futility”.
Analysis Of The Poem
The first stanza, very poignantly describes how a deceased soldier is moved to the sun with the hope that the gentle rays of the sun will revive his consciousness. The speaker by line, Move him into the Sun… Gently its touch awoke him once, At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
Suggests that the soldier whose life is curtailed by the war is young and it is eagerly wished that the sun, which is a life-giver, will once again bring the dead soldier to life because half of his life experiences are yet to be received. It was always the sun that somehow woke him up while he was at home or in France.
However, the speaker mentioned that even the sun could not bring life into him on this snowy snoring. Even though the speaker tried to bring in the image of light in the image of light through the sun, the first stanza ends in a state of despair for the soldier is dead. The soldier who fought in the war and died there was not prepared to die, he joined the war with the hope of securing his home and his nation.
In the second stanza, the speaker asks questions regarding life. The sun and the soil that lead to the growth of seeds are suggestive of how despite the soldier’s death, life has to go on. It signifies the paradox of life and death, while the sun and the soil give light and life on the one hand, it is disturbing for the speaker to acknowledge that: “What made fatuous sunbeams toil To break earth’s sleep at all?”
The speaker again refers to hope that is futile, even when the soldier is buried, as the seeds in the soil, cannot be brought back to life. If the sun, symbolizing God has created man then why is he silently witnessing the end of mankind? Indeed, the seriousness of the poem is reflected in the last two lines in which the speaker is clueless as to the notion of life and death. Therefore, it is only silence that pervades at the end of the poem.
Thus, through the poem “Futility” Owen is trying to say this war is pointless. From start to finish poem foregrounds the wastefulness of war. Displaying this truth through great imagery, Owen brings a candid opinion of what occurs during war.