“Out, Out -” by Robert Frost and “Disabled” by Wilfred Owen are two poems that portray the same theme; the theme of loss. Wilfred Owen was an English poet and served during the First World War. He uses comparisons and harsh imagery to gain the readers attention and to bring across his shocking, realistic view on war compared to the usual romantic and heroic perceptions of war. Robert Frost was american and was world known for his use of literary techniques such as personification, imagery and enjambements to portray american rural life. Owen’s view on war and the inspiration for his poem were obviously taken from the events of the First World War and his own experience in serving as a soldier. As well as “Disabled”, “Our, Out-” is also based on a true event when the son of Frost’s friend severed of his hand with a buzz saw and died of the continuos bleeding..
Even though they present the theme in a different way they both portray the subject of physical loss. In Frost’s “Out, Out -” the theme of loss is underlined with a certain melancholic feeling of meaninglessness and worthlessness of one’s life, which is referred to by the title which is an allusion to Macbeth where Lady Macbeth has just died and in a soliloquy he says ‘Out, Out, brief candle!’ meaning life can be over at any moment like a flickering candle can be blown out. In Owen’s “Disabled” it isn’t only about the physical loss but also about the metaphorical loss as he hasn’t lost his life like the boy in “Out, Out -” but has lost his legs and now he is touched by girls ‘like some queer disease’. The title of Owen’s poem relates directly to the theme of physical loss but doesn’t reveal these darker metaphorical layers of the poem.”Disabled” and “Out, Out-” are both written in the third person singular, so we explore the memories of the young soldier and the boys experiences in a less personal perspective. This narrative technique creates distance and objectiveness to the soldier and the boy and at the same time gives us the ability to judge them.
The punctuation used by the two poets differs a lot. In “Out, Out-” is very subtle at the beginning of the poem reflecting the calm and lovely atmosphere but when the mood of the poem changes, so does the punctuation. Frost uses words like ‘so’ to break up the iambic pentameter and disrupts the flow of the poem like the saw sirups the routine of wood cutting by severing of the boys hand.
Both poets start the poems with setting the scene. While at the start of “Out, Out-” Frost creates a very romantic atmosphere, describing ‘the sweet scented stuff’, which stands in contrast to the dramatic turn the poem later takes. On the other hand in “Disabled” doesn’t lure the reader into a false sense of security by creating a beautiful setting; no. Owen starts of the poem with a rather dark and sinister atmosphere, depicting ‘Through the park Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn’ perhaps like they did over the battlefield. In the second stanza Owen does describe the town the soldier is in as a lot more cheerful, but that is in the memories of the soldier and stands in contrast to what it is now. The boys innocence is emphasised through the personification of the saw that is throughout the poem is described like rabid animal. The poems “Disabled” and “Out, Out-” can both be used to show when difficult circumstances, that should be executed by adult men, can destroy the childhood of these innocent and young boys; in the case of “Out, Out-” death and “Disabled” crippling. There Frost’s poem creates the idea that even if somebody dies their families life will go on as if nothing happened and Owen’s poem the idea that things that are lost for the greater good won’t be praised and thanked for.
Wilfred Owen furthermore uses comparisons to demonstrate loss. ‘About this time Town used to swing so gay’ is an indirect comparison of the town before the war and after the war, this helps to emphasise how he realises he made a mistake and the losses he had to accept since he joined the army. Frost on the other hand combines different literary techniques in for example the verse ‘The buzz saw snarled and rattled…’ whereby he first of all personifies the saw as a vicious beast but on the other hand also uses onomatopoeia to give even more an effect of a savage animal than a machine which is controlled by the boy. The whole poem “Out, Out-” gives all in all also a feeling of misfortune as if incident wouldn’t have happened if the boy didn’t have to work longer after probably his parents forced him to continue; this is given of by the verse ‘Call it a day, I wish they might have said’. Another line that reinforces that indirectly is ‘At the word, the saw, As if to prove saws knew what supper meant,’ because of if the sister wouldn’t have suddenly stood next to him he probably wouldn’t have jumped which made the saw jump as she probably scared the boy.This feeling of misfortune s also given off in “Disabled” as if it weren’t ‘, to please the giddy jilts,’ and the pride that he felt then he wouldn’t have joined and would have prevented the loss he had to endure.
In very different ways the two poets present the theme of loss but in some ways they show connections. Owen compares the life of a soldier before and after war in both a physical and metaphorical way while Frost describes how a people move on even if they have lost some they love. Both of the poets also manage to keep up the readers interests by very different literary techniques.