The Sentry by Wilfred Owen
The Sentry is a very vivid poem by Wilfred Owen who fought in the First World War. It describes the harsh and horrendous conditions soldiers endured at that time. The subject of the poem is a sentry who was severely injured during a blast whilst on duty. It is a very moving poem with focus not just on the pitiful reaction of the injured soldier but also on Owen’s own haunted recollection. The main purpose of the poem was to explain the war to the reader as Owen was fully aware that the people at home were not really aware of the facts.
The poem consists of three stanzas and is underlined with the use of the traditional English stanza which is the quatrain iambic pentameter consisting of a rhyming scheme with a variation including rhyming couplets such as ‘men’ and ‘den’ and ‘scout’ and ‘about’. When regular rhythm changes in the poem trochaic is used like in line four with ‘Rain, guttering down in waterfalls of slime’ which is a reflection of the harsh conditions on the battlefield. The intensity if the rain gives the poem a rather sinister tone. In the second stanza the pentameter is interrupted with a caesura as the semi colon after the word ‘body’ creates a disjointed effect. Most of the lines consist of 10 syllables.
The very first line of the first stanza brings into realisation the abysmal conditions of the trench the soldiers found themselves in. The word ‘we’d’ indicates that it is a first person narrative and a real life experience which makes it even more poignant and builds a sense of intensity. The use of the words ‘and he knew’ adds a slight menace to the first line which starts of almost conversationally.
The use of rhyme and repetition in the first stanza combined forms a rapid cadence establishing a rhythmic flow with ‘hell, for shell on frantic shell’ followed by ‘hour by hour…sour’, a reflection of the hard hitting assaults and the endlessness of their situation.The repetition of ‘Frantic shell’ signifies a...