Exposure – Wilfred Owen

The idea of “exposure” (being dangerously exposed to the natural elements / weather) is represented throughout the poem. We first see it in the title with the word “Exposure”, from this we dont know if the weather is extremely hot or extremely cold but we have been introduced to the idea of exposure within the war. “Winds that knife us” is the next example of exposure in the poem, with this example we are able to understand how the wind is so cold or so strong that it is like painful stabs as the soldiers walk through it. “mad gusts tugging on the wire” sets the scene for the sentence “men amongst its brambles”. It shows us how the strong winds are tangling the men up in the barbed wire, capturing them in these harsh conditions. “air that shudders black with snow” this is telling us how the freezing temperatures these men are facing could likely be more deadly than a bullet itself. “clouds sag stormy” is another example of exposure as it paints a picture of how heavy the clouds are, as if they’re threatening to once again leave the soldiers shivering and soaked.  “we drowse sun-dozed” tells us that after all the harsh, cold weather these men are now exposed to the sun which leaves their bodies drowsy. Over all throughout this poem we learn how exposure was very dangerous to these men stuck in trenches, so dangerous it had potential to be more dangerous than the guns, bombs or enemies. It was a silent killer.

The weather has been presented as an enemy in the poem. We see this all through the poem when for example the author uses the sentence “flights of bullets streak the silence, less deadly than the air that shudders black with snow” this shows how exposure is presented as the enemy as it is telling us that the weather is more deadly than a bullet.

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