“Futility” is a short poem by Wilfred Owen, and one of the very few to have been published during his lifetime. It first appeared in

The Nation

magazine on 15 June 1918, Owen having composed it at Ripon – where he was stationed at a military training camp – in the previous month. Although always classified among Owen’s famously moving poems about the First World War, and probably based upon some incident of Owen’s wartime experience in the previous year, it unusually makes no direct mention of the war. In his draft plan for a volume of poems, Owen placed “Futility” under the thematic heading of “Grief”, and the poem indeed dramatises aspects of the psychology of grief in remarkable ways, resonating beyond the normally expected range of war poetry.

There are two slightly

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Citation: Baldick, Chris. "Futility". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 January 2015 [https://www.litencyc.com/php/sworks.php?rec=true&UID=35566, accessed 22 April 2024.]

35566 Futility 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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