How is Loss Represented in Wilfred Owen’s ‘Disabled’ and Robert Frost’s ‘Out, Out –’?
“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we live” (Norman Cousins). This is an element of life which is unequivocally captured in both Wilfred Owen’s ‘Disabled’ and Robert Frost’s ‘Out, Out –’. It is shown through loss’ many forms (forms such as the loss of control, the loss of life and physical loss) – with each poem depicting them in contrasting ways. Wilfred Owen’s ‘Disabled’ is about a soldier, once a talented football player, who is crippled due to the savagery of war. It describes how the injuries he had sustained crippled in more ways than one – leading to him having to endure the many forms of loss . Robert Frost’s ‘Out, Out –’ describes a child who, after losing his hand to a buzz-saw, has his life laid at the mercy of discourteous adults; resulting in his death. In the poem the boy experiences the callous forms of loss.
Control, an aspect of life which is taken for granted by all; yet both Wilfred Owen and Robert Frost are able to capture the effects of its loss. This is evident from the start of Owen's ‘Disabled' and from the very first line of the poem. In this, the protagonist is portrayed as having no control over his current situation and his life – as shown when he is described as being “in a wheeled chair”. It symbolizes the loss of control, as he has to be pushed everywhere, not being able to lead his life the way he would have, thus depicting an absence of control. This in turn displayes the loss of control, as it is implied that the protagonist was once in control – as demonstrated through him once being a football player. The absence of control is further reinforced by the structure of Owen’s ‘Disabled’. The structure of the poem itself is multi-stanzaic, with it in turn having a fragmented and uncontrolled structure – evinced through the jumping between periods in time between stanzas. The loss of control is also demonstrated through similar means in Frost’s ‘Out, Out –’; with both conveying it through the structure of the poem. In Frost’s ‘Out, Out–’, the poem is monostanzaic, with the events being told in chronological order. This shows there to be an overabundance of control – as, due to an overabundance of control, he was able to obtain THE buzz-saw – leading to his hand being cut off, sequentially causing any control he had over his life to be handed to the doctors. Despite both showing control through the structure of the poem, the point the poets are trying to convey are vastly different – with Owen trying to show how the injuries he sustained lead to the loss of control of his life, and Frost portraying how an overabundance of control leading to the loss of his life.
The loss of life itself is encapsulated by both poets through many different forms. An example of this is that of Frost’s depiction of the loss of life in ‘Out, Out –’. In this he describes the scen...