This poem, Inspection, was written by Wilfred Owen in 1918 the year before he died when he was in the First World War. The poem is a 3-stanza poem, about an inspection by a commanding officer, almost certainly, Owen himself, and the reactions of an ordinary soldier.
Inspections were very important to the British army, reinforcing the need for certain standards and discipline. I think that Owen is pointing out that inspections are unnecessary, and that this particular inspection was unfair upon the individual soldier.
Owen was educated in London; after an illness in 1913 he lived in France. He had already begun to write, while working as a tutor near Bordeaux. In 1915 Owen enlisted in the British army. The experience of trench warfare brought changed him a lot. The poems written after January 1917 are full of anger at war’s brutality, an elegiac pity for “those who die as cattle,” and a rare descriptive power. In June 1917 he was wounded and sent home. While in a hospital near Edinburgh he met the poet Siegfried Sassoon, who shared his feelings about the war and who became interested in his work. Reading Sassoon’s poems and discussing his work with Sassoon revolutionized Owen’s style and his conception of poetry. Despite the plans of well-wishers to find him a staff job, he returned to France in August 1918 as a company commander. He was awarded the Military Cross in October and was killed a week before Armistice Day which was on November 11th 1918.
The first paragraph is made up of four lines. It has three people involved, a colonel taking an inspection, an officer and a soldier. The officer after spotting what he thought was dirt on the soldier’s shirt is telling him off for having dirt on his clothing, The soldier tries to point out that it’s blood but gets cut off by the cornel and is “confined to camp”.
The second stanza is made up of 4 lines. In it the officer looking back on the punishment he gave out after finding out that the dirt was blood. He came to the conclusion that blood was dirt, this is one of the many ways that Owen connects his poems to the bible. In the bible in says that man is made from dust and when the poem says, blood is dirt, it is correct according to the bible. This part of the poem is also connected to Shakespeare’s Macbeth, It says ” the dammed spot” which is the same words Lady Macbeth used when she was trying to get the blood off her hands, even though she is imagining that it is on her hands. I believe that this ties in with the war because the blood of war cannot be washed from men’s minds.
The third stanza is twice as big as the other two with eight lines in total. In it the soldier is looking back on the harsh punishment he got, he laughs, probably with disgust, at the fact he is being punished for being wounded in battle. Wilfred Owen uses another reference to the bible in this stanza also. He says “and almost merged for ever in clay.” This is going around the same meaning as the other biblical reference that man is made from dirt, and will return to dirt at the end, as Owen puts it “merged for ever with clay”. The soldier, in the 4th line says, “The world is washing out its stains.” I believe this to mean that the world is getting rid of the things it doesn’t want anymore like war. This is why the First World War was meant to be the war that ended all wars. The soldier then goes on to say ” it doesn’t like our cheeks so red, young bloods its great objection.” This gives a whole new meaning to it. It sounds as if the world is trying to get rid of the happy people, the people with “red cheeks” as it says and the young people “young bloods its great objection.”
Owen then ends the poem by saying “but when were duly white washed, being dead the race will bear field marshal God’s inspection” This means that when we are all dead it will be God who inspects us all and we will all be judged equally. This is showing that the soldier and the Officer will both be on the same level and they will be judged equally.