Wilfred Owen, selected poems Contents
- Wilfred Owen: Social and political background
- Wilfred Owen: Religious / philosophical context
- Wilfred Owen: Literary context
- Wilfred Owen: 1914
- Wilfred Owen: Anthem for Doomed Youth
- Wilfred Owen: At a Calvary near the Ancre
- Wilfred Owen: Disabled
- Wilfred Owen : Dulce et Decorum Est
- Wilfred Owen: Exposure
- Wilfred Owen: Futility
- Wilfred Owen: Greater Love
- Wilfred Owen: Hospital Barge
- Wilfred Owen: Insensibility
- Wilfred Owen: Inspection
- Wilfred Owen: Le Christianisme
- Wilfred Owen: Mental Cases
- Wilfred Owen: Miners
- Wilfred Owen: S.I.W
- Wilfred Owen: Soldier’s Dream
- Wilfred Owen: Sonnet On Seeing a Piece of Our Heavy Artillery Brought into Action
- Wilfred Owen: Spring Offensive
- Wilfred Owen: Strange Meeting
- Wilfred Owen: The Dead-Beat
- Wilfred Owen: The Last Laugh
- Wilfred Owen: The Letter
- Wilfred Owen: The Parable of the Old Man and the Young
- Wilfred Owen: The Send-Off
- Wilfred Owen: The Sentry
- Wilfred Owen: Wild with All Regrets
Miners - Imagery, symbolism and themes
Imagery in Miners
Throughout Miners Owen uses the image of being underground. This was one of the horrors of war he had himself experienced in 1917 and his discomfort surfaces in many of his poems. Owen’s early interest in geology gave him the picture of the coal being formed over millennia from prehistoric leaves and ferns. He uses the image as a metaphor for the way in which the dead of the war provide warm and security for the future when they, like the plants which formed the coal, are ‘left in the ground’ l.34.
The personification of the coal (see above) is continued with the idea that the ancient forests from which the coal was created have a ‘tale of leaves’ to tell. However Owen realises that the coals are not being nostalgic for the past, rather their ‘murmuring’ is unrest about ‘their mines’ l.13 where miners ‘moan’ l.14.
In lines 23 and 24 Owen personifies Death and Peace, with Death believing that Peace will emerge from ‘the dark pits of war’. Owen puns on the two meanings of ‘lies’: Peace does not lie (rest) in the rock of war where the men dig, it lies (deceives) to the troops.
Time is also given the attributes of a person, who warms his hands on the burnt sacrifice of the men l.27-8 and will carry on burning up ‘loads’ of such precious ‘fossil fuel’ l.29.
Symbolism in Miners
Both the miners and the soldiers symbolise sacrifice. The mines and the dark pits of war also represent Owen’s ongoing dreams of hell. Owen’s and Time’s fires, fed by the coal miners who risk their lives, are examples of the home fires which a popular song of the time exhorted those on the Home front to ‘keep burning’ while the boys on the Western front ‘dream of home.’
Investigating imagery and symbolism in Miners
Themes in Miners
In Miners Owen visits many of the key themes he explores in other poems. The concept of the sacrifice of the lives of men and boys to ensure the unacknowledged safety and comfort of those at home is particularly to the forefront. Pain and suffering, dying and death are all explicit. Owen pays great attention to the details of the insensitivities of those on the home front who benefit from the war. They are warmed by the soldiers’ sacrifice in the same way as they are warmed by the coal for which the miners died. They will remember neither.
Investigating themes in Miners
- Owen began Miners as a poem about a mining disaster, yet the resulting theme is of war. What ideas are common to both tragedies?
- Does Owen concentrate on the war dead at the expense of the dead miners, as some critics have suggested?
- Do you agree that this poem is out of place in a selection of anti-war poems, which is the view of some critics?
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