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Wild With all Regrets Analysis

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Jimmy Christey

on 31 October 2015

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Transcript of Wild With all Regrets Analysis

Wild With All Regrets
Wilfred Owen

Wild With all Regrets is comprised of 2 main body stanzas and a final sentence, with use of para-rhyme throughout. It is addressed to Siegfried Sassoon. It is a photographic, anatomical expression of dying man's "twilight" experience between life and death in a war hospital as he approaches death. The poem is a monologue, mainly as a stream of consciousness of one man. Stanzas shorten through the play to reinforce idea of the "fading" of the man's life force as he weakens and presumably dies.
Reading of poem
Stanza 1 analysis
Themes/Ideas explored
My arms
against me --
My fingers
fidget like ten
idle brats,
My back's
been stiff for hours,
damned hours.
Death never gives his squad a Stand-at-ease.
I can't read. There: it's no use. Take your book.
A short life and a merry one, my buck!
We said we'd hate to grow dead old. But now,
Not to live old
seems awful:

not to renew
My boyhood with my boys, and teach 'em hitting,
Shooting and hunting, -- all the arts of hurting!
-- Well, that's what I learnt. That, and making money.
Your fifty years in store seem none too many;
But I've five minutes
God! For just two years
help myself
to this good
of yours!
One Spring! Is one too hard to spare? Too long?
Spring air would find its own way to my lung,
And grow me legs as quick as lilac-shoots.
Annotation key
Death - black
Nature/life - Green
Anatomy/pain - Red
Anger - Orange
Religion/continuance - Grey
Sadness/Reminiscent tone - Blue

Rough ideas only, but you can highlight these if you need to
Stanza 2 analysis
Yes, there's the orderly.
He'll change the sheets
When I'm lugged out, oh, couldn't I do that?
Here in this
offin of a bed
, I've thought
I'd like to kneel and sweep his floors for ever,
And ask no nights off when the bustle's over,
I'd enjoy the dirt; who's prejudiced
Against a grimed hand when his
own's quite

Less live than specks that in the sun-shafts turn?
, -- in rooms, on roads, on faces' tan!
I'd love to be a sweep's boy,
black as Town;
Yes, or a muckman.
Must I be his load?
A flea would do. If one chap wasn't bloody,
Or went stone-cold, I'd find another body.
Title analysis
The title of this poem is a line from "The Princess" by Alfred Tennyson, giving the poem a richer literary background. It is longer than Owen's traditional succinct short titles such as "Disabled" and "Futility" perhaps to show that the poem contains grittier, in depth details of war's disastrous effects on the ordinary man in the poem.
Which I shan't manage now
. Unless it's yours.
I shall stay in you, friend, for some
few hours
You'll feel my
chill your chest,
climb your throat on sobs
, until it's chased
On sighs, and wiped from off
your lips by

I think on your
rich breathing
brother, I'll be weaned
To do without
blood remained me from my wound.
Stanza 3/4 analysis

Compare with:
Disabled - Physical detriment, pity and regret.
Mental Cases - Mental detriment and pity, purgatorial state between life and death
Spring offensive - Nature's contrast with death
Futility - pointlessness of war, religion and "Dust/Clay" idea
Contextual background
The poem was written just after Owen was discharged from Craiglockhart hospital, where he met Siegfried Sassoon. This gives the poem an extra element of realism as Owen had been there just days earlier in a hospital like the one depicted. He would've seen this kind of suffering on a daily basis which makes this poem all the more realistic and believable.
Death is central to the poem.

It is indiscriminate and "Never gives his squad a stand-at-ease." Metaphor shows the character, and presumably also Owen's assimilation of death with generals in war.

This character also used to associate old age with death as being very similar, he did not want to grow old as old age was essentially the same as death. Circumstances changed, and now that the man is dying he sees old age in a different light and looks for any way to add time to his life.
Anatomical language and personification of body parts introduces the idea of physical disability due to an injury.

"My arms... My fingers... My back...". Words like "Mutiny" and "Fidget" show a lack of control and human intentionality in war represented metaphorically as human anatomy. Words/phrases like "Damned hours" and "Brutes" reinforce the character's anger.

All of this works together to show his discontent with his current physical condition
Some may interpret the physical references and the way he "Fidgets" absent mindedly as being a simultaneous representation of his mental state.

Short sentences and caesura are used to display a sense of interrupted thought while he says
"I can't read. There: It's no use."

His mental ability is a shadow of what it used to be. This adds to the theme of nostalgia and how the man reminisces about pre-war life.
The character looks retrospectively at his past and the irony used by Owen is prevalent in this part of the poem.

He talks about how he taught his boys "All the arts of hurting... That and making money"

Teaching his boys the arts of hurting are ironic because they are exactly what lead this man to be dying in hospital. He realises that these skills are terrible things that have dire consequences in war.

Making money is another point that is ironic. Because the protagonist is dying, he no longer needs money, he needs life. Money is useless to him. This implies regret for enlisting in the war.
As he approaches death, the character realises that life is worth pursuing to old age and he looks to divine intervention for "Just two years" more life.

Nature is used to represent renewal and life. He asks god for just one spring, because "Spring air would grow me lungs as quick as lilac shoots". This natural imagery is similar to that of "1914"
The idea of normality is harrowing in stanza 2. Connotation of the word "Orderly" and the action of "Changing the sheets" indicates the tragedy of the man depicted is just one of thousands of other tragedies occurring on a daily basis in war.

The verb "Lugged" objectifies the man as 'luggage' as he knows that he is already as good as dead. The metaphor of a "coffin of a bed" shows that he is aware that being admitted to hospital with injuries like his is a death sentence.
The character in the play is in such an extreme state of helplessness he admits "I'd like to kneel and sweep his floors forever". Sweeping the orderly's floors is an awful job, as is being a "Muckman" in London which, at the time was very dirty.

We know he is talking about London because "Town" is capitalised and it is known for its grimy, dirty chimney sweeps.

Long dirt metaphor concieves death to be the ultimate woe, worse than lifelong suffering in an awful job yet still retaining life. Desperation for continuance. Human survival instinct overpowers "first world needs" like being clean.
Dust, while relating to the aforementioned "dirt" metaphor, also serves as a religious allusion to the Book of Common Prayer".

"Ashes to ashes, Dust to Dust"
"Less live than dust specks in sun shafts turn"
Human life from dust, and returning to dust. Vast contrast between "Spring" and "Dust" - shows fear for his coming death. He doesn't want to be "Dust" again.

A flea would do. If one chap wasn't bloody,
Or went stone-cold, I'd find another body.

This line is an allusion to the supernatural.

More specifically, the idea of reincarnation and spiritual afterlife. He would be content to live on as such a basic insect like a flea, moving his spirit from body to body as a flea does.

When one body dies or no longer has blood left to feed off, his spirit would move to another body like a flea.

The third stanza becomes very melancholy as the character realizes he "Shan't manage" to become a flea or any other live being, and he must remain only a spirit.

The sad, depressing tone is created by Owen's use of semantic field. A group of words with similar connotations superpose each other and produce a tone or mood.

Words like "Chill", "Spirit", "Sobs", "Heavy" and "sighs" all add to this effect. Highlight these in blue.

The character talks about how his only connection with the living world is through his friend, and even this weak connection will break soon and his spirit will be chased away by the wind, bringing nature into the poem once again but this time an element of finality is added.
Blood imagery is used at the very end of the poem, along with the spirit idea to represent death as both of these things have deathly connotations.

The character dies, and as he does he realizes that he must "wean" himself from earthly possessions like a human body and blood, and live on as a spirit. He thinks of his dear friend in his time of death, showing Owen's belief that friendship is essential in life.

Stanzas shorten throughout the poem to show the man slowly dying.

Para-rhyme acts as a sub-conscious subject linking technique, the reader doesn't realize this as they read it but it helps to add some structure to the poem.

Words that half-rhyme, like "Wind", "wound" and "weaned" Or "Chest" and "Chased" exemplify para-rhyme.
Anatomical imagery is used at the beginning of the poem, and this blood image at the end helps represent the "Dust to dust" Theme of cyclical life and death, beginning as simply "dust" or body parts and ending up as the same.
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