Wilfred Owen explores and focuses on the trauma and conflict of the soldier’s experience during the cruel battle of World War 1 within the time span of 24 hours. It portrays the message of the real enemy of the soldiers being the icy and cold environment. With the other poem, Heaney presents a monologue poem which highlights the brutal attacks and violence of nature especially the storm seen from the perspective of a common villager.
Exposure starts off with the present tense using first person ‘our’ or ‘us’, showing a collective voice that displays the visual experience shared by the soldiers across the war. His choice of words simply but powerfully describes the extremes to which he and his men were exposed to. As we reach nearer towards the centre of the poem, it gets dominated by words from the semantic field of weather such as ‘ice east winds’ and ‘rain soaks’. These sibilant sounds and combination of hard consonants like ‘r’ create a cutting bitter edge to the elements which ‘knife’ the men leaving us in no doubt about the pain they intentionally inflict however the speaker constantly moves from defiance, awe, humour and then to dear yet he manages to maintain a calm tone showing us his optimistic attitude.
In ‘Storm on the island’, Heaney gives a vivid description and use of sounds to create the setting of a thunderous storm with the sense of sound. For instance, the poem tries to show the trees absence emphasising how powerful the winds must be giving off violent imagery creating further a flow of vigorous movements surrounding the whole poem. The image of the island’s landscape is now very drab and barren. The absence again gives a sense of loss of ‘company’ during the stormy event. This seems to be because the wind will cause the trees to make a lot of constant noise which at least identifies the storm’s power.This personifies the trees in terms of when it comes to making noise as it is the only present sound in the area. As the audience we can’t help but get the feeling of helplessness as people can’t do anything about their fears but except only wait for the feeling to vanish. Theme of nature flows throughout presenting itself as a powerful and relentless force. We can also notice that the tone is almost conversational as if the poet is directly talking to the reader somehow confiding in them.
The final thought from Heaney’s poem is that it is really strange that what we fear is a ‘huge nothing’ yet it causes so much fear inside us. We could probably work out his true intentions which is to reflect on the effects of people’s individual and personal fears. With Owen, he carries a continuous tone of helplessness and despair but with a picture of communal endurance and courage. It shows the concept of how nature is against the soldiers and is angry at them making them truly alone in the hostile conditions. The poet’s experiences were real as he was present during those time of war so his intentions are pure and real. We may argue that he wanted to present the fierce side of nature and that it is way more scarier than we thought.