Comparison of ‘Futility’ and ‘Poppies’

Category: Poetry, Wilfred Owen
Last Updated: 18 Apr 2023
Pages: 2 Views: 319

The two notorious war poems Futility by Wilfred Owen and Poppies by Jane Weir are poems that are different in many ways. Although they are both based on war, the theme of each poem is different. It is clear that ‘Poppies’ is about a mother talking about her son leaving her, whilst ‘Futility’ is about a man grieving the death of a comrade in battle. Whilst both poems share a sense of loss, in ‘Poppies’, it is more a fear of the possibility of loss rather than the persona in ‘Futility’ who expresses his loss and the anger and frustration that comes from it.

In this way, the atmosphere portrayed in each poem is different; ‘Futility’ shows a more bitter sense of anguish, expressed through the way the narrator is asking why his friend cannot be awoken, which shows a harsher feeling of despair than in ‘Poppies’. ‘Poppies’ shows a much calmer sense of sadness again through the language used by the poet. Jane Weir uses much softer words like, ‘smoothed’, ‘graze’, ‘melting’, ‘traced’, which create a more flowing and soothing effect to the poem.

If one looks at each poem from the perspective of looking at how each one relates to war, then it is easy to see which one is the stronger of the two. ‘Futility’ was written by Wilfred Owen, a man who served during the war. Most of his poems about war are generally quite harsh and graphic. ‘Futility’, although it is not a graphic poem about death, carries the harsh realism of a man who has lost a friend and is beside himself with hopelessness.

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Wilfred Owen is able to put real emotion into his writing because of his personal experiences in war. This is where ‘Poppies’ is weaker than ‘Futility’. Jane Weir is a modern day poet who was born after the second war. This means that ‘Poppies’ loses some value because it is not a personal experience. This could mean that she portrays a soft feeling to war in her writing, or almost a naive idea of what war is actually like having not experienced it like Wilfred Owen.

The main difference between the two poems is that ‘Poppies’ is written as a narrative (more like a story than a poem), whilst ‘Futility’ uses much more poetic expressions and language, talking about the subtle power of the sun. Personally I prefer ‘Futility’ because it uses more poetic language and speaks of true emotions felt during the war. Also the fact that it was written by a poet who experienced the war and was a soldier during it makes the poem more credible and personal which, I think, adds to the sentimental value of the poem.

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Comparison of ‘Futility’ and ‘Poppies’. (2017, May 01). Retrieved from

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