Often, a poem will reflect aspects of the writer’s life. However we can’t always assume a poem is autobiographical, even if it is written in the first person.
Biographical clues from a poem’s context can give you insights into its themes or message. Some questions you might ask include:
You can research the poet’s background to discover answers to these questions. Be careful to only include details you have discovered that reveal something about the poem.
Wilfred Owen is considered one of the greatest war poets. His poems contain vivid, horrific details of soldier’s experiences in World War One. These details were communicated to people back at home in Britain, who did not necessarily understand the miserable conditions soldiers were facing at the time.
Which of these facts about Owen’s life might be useful when answering a question about his portrayal of war in his poems?
The fact Owen served as a soldier, and that he died whilst out on service, are important to many readers of his poems. He saw the reality of the war for himself, and had first-hand experience of it. Details about his birth and earlier life may be interesting, but what is most relevant to understanding his poems is the context of his military service.