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Wilfred Owen in World War I

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) is one of many World War I soldiers who turned to poetry to express their horror at the war. Like one-third of all Englishmen born in 1893, he was killed in France, only one week before the Armistice. His anti-war poetry stood in stark contrast to the official propaganda about the glories of trench warfare and the heroism of British soldiers. His most famous poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, is a scathing critique of the pro-war sentiment that claimed, "Right and sweet it is to die for one's country."

Owen represented the many poets who brought the real war home to their readers. The long list included Siegfried Sassoon, John McCrae, and Robert Graves, all of whom fought for England and lost their youth and idealism, if not also their lives. No other war has spawned such a profusion of poetry, which stood as the touchstone of the disenchanted Lost Generation after the war. Owen died in battle one week before the Armistice, but his poems still help readers understand the life of a World War I soldier.

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