"My theme is war and the misery of war," Owen once said of his whole body of work. In this poem, he examines one aspect of how death claims the lives of so many warriors. The soldiers appear to have no notion where they are, what they are fighting for, or how long they will be fighting. They simply obey their orders and die.
Exposure was written when Owen was living in New York City after his return from France. The painting is now in the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
Owen's "Exposure" is written predominantly in the first person plural, with the subject referred to as "our" and "we" throughout (1, 2). When the speaker is lost in contemplation and contemplating what it might be like to come home during combat, the perspective briefly incorporates third-person plural in stanzas six and eight. Otherwise, the poem is written in first person singular.
Owens uses "I" only when referring to someone other than himself. For example, when describing his hometown of Enfield, Connecticut, he says that it is near where "the I-95 crosses the Merritt Parkway" and where "the I-91 meets up with the I-90." In all other cases, he refers to himself in the third-person. This technique allows him to avoid giving away military strategy or exposing personal feelings while still getting his point across.
In addition to using "I", Owens also uses "me" and "my". He uses these words to indicate that he is alone on a battlefield, when thinking about coming home he says, "I wonder, me, if they've found some peace yet?" Finally, he uses "our" and "we" to represent the American Expeditionary Force. Throughout the poem, he mentions different units including "a regiment from New York," "a battalion from Massachusetts," and so on.
Owens also uses adjectives to describe people and things.
The impact of war on the protagonist nation is depicted via exposure. The poet's emotions are the center of The Bayonet Charge. Exposure is presented as a first-hand account of life in the trenches. It is important to note that William Ernest Henley was not present at the battle itself, but rather he witnessed the aftermath from the safe shelter of his desk job at the time.
Exposure depicts the horrors of war through images and through the testimony of eyewitnesses. Many soldiers who took part in the charge were killed or wounded, while others returned home unable to work or go to school because of the injuries they had received. The poet also mentions "a million deaths" which occurred at Verdun alone. This represents the loss of life due to combat operations at a single location during one year of fighting.
Henley uses poetic license to add drama to his poem. For example, while it is true that some soldiers were given flowers and candy by pretty girls after their victory, this does not happen at every bayonet charge. And despite what the poet claims, most soldiers do not return home alive after a successful charge.
Furthermore, while it is true that some units perform better than others in battle, this too is an exaggeration.
Similarly, in 'Exposure,' nature is portrayed to have greater influence over the warriors than even their enemies, killing more people. Nature is shown as powerful and dangerous, as "her mournful army assaulted once again." Exposure also includes a reference to "the great destroyer," showing that nature plays an important role.
Another example comes from William Cullen Bryant's poem 'Thanatopsis: A Monody.' In this poem, the speaker describes death as "the great equalizer," saying that everyone experiences death, no matter how rich or poor, famous or unknown. This shows that death affects everyone involved with it, especially those who are most valuable to themselves and others.
Bryant uses this idea to make another point about life being meaningless. He says that death brings everyone together, because nobody can escape it. Everyone must face death at some point, so why worry about what will happen after you die? The only thing we can do is live our lives fully while we are alive, because there is no way to know what will happen after we die.