Futility’ mourns the sad ironic death of a young soldier. An address to the sun, which gave the life to the earth only for them to be cut down in this futile way, states a larger irony. The poem concerns this death and all life in which such death occurs. The character in the poem hopes that the sun will revive the dead one, as it had formerly done whilst he was at home in England. ‘Out of the Blue’ tells the story of a trapped victim inside the towers who pleads for help but it’s impossible. The use of the word ‘you’ show he addresses camera men, TV watchers, God and terrorists among many others observing the attack.
The titles of both poems reflect either the purpose or tone of the poem. The definition of futility is the quality of being incapable of producing any result or effect. This highlights the poets view on war which is that it is pointless and no glory or honour is achieved just a wasteful loss of lives. This tells us that the poem is going to reflect quality and fragility of life right through. The word ‘blue’ in the title ‘Out of the Blue’ could symbolise many things. It is a cold word associated with winter and chill which could be a metaphor for the responsible, cold hearted terrorists.
Blue is also associated with unhappiness and hurt therefore it could also imply the loneliness of the individual in the poem and shows a theme of the poem will be sadness. My initial reasoning for choosing these poems in particular was the significant similarities demonstrated in theme. Both poems display the themes sad and hope throughout which shows us that during war and attack, these two aspects are prominent. In Out of the Blue the line ‘I am not at the point of leaving, diving’ implies the theme hope is important and in ‘Futility’ the line ‘move him into the Sun’ shows the character was hoping for him to awaken.
The additional theme in thepoem ‘Futility’ is the pointlessness of human sacrifice. Wilfred Owen challenges the expression of the dignity of war-service, and giving life for your country. The fragility of life is another theme expressed throughout both poems. In ‘Out of the Blue’ we assume the victim is just an ordinary employee or visitor to The World Trade Centre who did not expect the events of the day to unfold as they did so and in ‘Futility’ the man compares a normal day where he is awoken by the Sun to this day where everything has drastically changed.
Both poets have selected emotional vocabulary to emphasise their points and add to particular atmospheres. The vocabulary used in both is powerful and important however both imply different aspects. For example Simon Armitage uses the word ‘small’ to show the sheer size of the destruction and how isolated this individual is in comparison. The word ‘small’ makes the reader think intimidation and unimportant immediately. Wilfred Owen uses the words, ‘dear achieved’ to emphasise the effort and care put into the creation of a body and that war allows this hard labour to go to waste.
These words and their desired effects contrast as it shows in 9/11 (setting of ‘Out of the Blue’) there were so many bodies to focus on and everything was happening so quickly it was more difficult to focus on one individual and their life where as Wilfred Owen focuses on one life and the attention it received once dead. Simon Armitage puts the word ‘You’ at the start of the poem to draw the reader’s attention and make the poem more direct. This is because the attacks were broadcasted so hugely it wasn’t a very personal and direct situation unless you were in it.
World War 1 (the setting of Futility) however, already affected a wide range of nationalities and families so this was not necessary. This also shows that the two poems were aimed at a different scale of things. Throughout ‘Out of the Blue’ the choice of vocabulary such as ‘burning’ and scenario shows it was focused at the particular event of 9/11 however ‘Futility’ has a more general feel due to words, such as ‘dear achieved’ as all life is dear achieved, that although it is set in World War 1 it accounts for all war and battle.
‘Futility’ uses more vocabulary however less technique to achieve its dramatic effect. It uses words such as ‘snow’ to stress the harsh, hostile conditions and the word ‘fatuous’ to show the stupidity of the sunbeams in their life giving powers if life will be wasted as it is during war. The techniques shown in both poems consist of irony, personification, rhetorical questions and symbolism. The word ‘love’ in ‘Out of the Blue’ shows he is aiming his words toward his love however the use of the word is ironic as the events are far from loving but brutal and full of hatred.
Additionally in the poem a ‘bird’ goes by the speaker is ironic as a creature so close to him is safe and content when he is in fact the complete opposite. In ‘Futility’ the suns awakening powers are significant. The use of the word ‘wakes’ is used repeatedly in different forms such as ‘awoken’, ‘rouse’ and ‘woke’. This is ironic as although the Sun awakens the planet every day, this day is different due to the life of the solider now being nonexistent.
In both poems, personification highlights two of the main focuses in the situations however contrast hugely as in one poem the word creates a soft atmosphere and in another the atmosphere created is a manic, busy one. Within ‘Futility’ the Sun is personified repeatedly and in ‘Out of the Blue’ the fire and sirens sourcing from emergency services are personified. The Sun is said to ‘wake’ the seeds which gives a gentle atmosphere to the line and adds to the irony in the poem. Simon Armitage however personifies the heat of the fire to be ‘bullying’ and ‘driving’ which implies it is causing huge distress and pushing people to death.