Born Wilfred Edward
Salter Owen in
England and started
writing poetry as a
He went to France to
work as a language
tutor. He went back to
England and enlisted
in the army
He was diagnosed
shellshock and had to
leave the Western
He met Siegfried
Sassoon at the
influenced him to
change his conception
After he returned to
the Western Front he
was killed in action.
His work began
for his severe
the cruelty of
He had fought in the
Western Front in
France for 2 years
He had got out from
hospital after a mortar
made him land on a
dead soldier and got
trapped in a trench.
Therefore, he was sent
to hospital were
shared with him his
negative ideas about
Think how it wakes the seeds,—
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
—O what made fatuous sunbeams
To break earth’s sleep at all?
Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-
Always it woke him, even in
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.
Analysis of the Title
Futility => pointlessness
● Pointlessness of war
● Pointlessness of life
Why did God create life, the earth, human, if
human will create war and destroy everything?
○ God’s creation
○ Pointlessness of war
○ Pointlessness of life
○ The costs of war
○ Life vs death
○ (Man vs Man)
○ Criticism against human
○ Critical (of war and human)
○ War Poetry
Analysis - Literary Devices
● Personification of the “sun” as God
○ “Gently its touch awoke him once”
○ “The kind old sun will know”
● Synecdoche : “limbs” as man
● Enjambment : eternal creation being constantly destroyed
● Semantic field of nature to refer to God’s creation including human
● Repetition of “clay” - Biblical reference
● Symbolism of “seeds”
● Symbolism of “sides”
● Oxymoron : “the clays of a cold star”
● “It always woke him, even in France”
● “Until this morning and this snow-...-The kind old sun will know”
● “Was it for this the clay grew tall?”
● “Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved—still warm—too hard to stir?”
● “-O what made fatuous sunbeams toil- To break earth’s sleep at all?”
Connections to real life
Although the surroundings and the technology have changed,
people have not. The fact that we still fight for something, as a piece
of land, is nonsense. Why can't we talk calmly and achieve a
diplomatic agreement instead of battling with no objective. Millions
of lives are lost in a war, cities are ruined and fall apart into pieces,
civils are injured and killed. This happened then in WW1 and is
happening in the Middle East with the objective of obtaining a
What does the poem teach us?
The writer all throughout the poem makes us question ourselves and think why
God created the world including life, if his own creation would destroy it as human
causes war. The poem makes us understand that human should appreciate the life
that God gave to him instead of causing wars and destroying everything that he
Besides, it teaches us that we are all humans regardless of our cultural, social,
political or economic diversities. Therefore, we should not fight against each other
at war, at the end we are all the same.
It is great how the author ponders God's power to create life, setting it against
extinction. We can notice that the poet feels frustrated at the pointlessness of
creating life for it to be destroyed by war. We like the title as it is very significant
because “futility” is a word that probably could sum up war as something that
has no effective result, people will kill other similar people.
At the last stanza, Owen used the word “fatuous” as his anger is coming out
hinting at the pointlessness of war. What we understood is that war doesn’t
value the importance of life.
We also enjoyed how the poet could express his contempt for war and its
horrible consequences in a metaphorical way.