The Semantics and Poetics of Autobiographism in War Poets’ Lyrics


  • Yevheniya Chernokova Oles Honchar Dnipropetrovsk National University, Ukraine



lyrics, subject structure, Sassoon, Owen, Rosenberg, autobiographism, role hero, “empiric” author, lyrical “self”, persona, “the other”


The paper deals withautobiographismin a lyrical poemseen as the realization of the personified point of view on the world, on him/herself and on his/her place in the world. This problem in lyrics is complex as it affects the core of its subject structure. It does not add up to autopsychologism but reveals the complex interaction of “empiric” author, lyrical “self” and persona, their “inseparability – non-fusion”, when persona appears not as an image-character but as an image-personality (M. Bakhtin). The paradigmatic changes of autobiographism manifestation in the lyrics of S. Sassoon, W. Owen and A. Rosenberg are in the focus of the research. The Great War was not the only the central event of their life but also the principal theme of their poetry. But autobiographism is actualized in their lyrics in rather different ways. Sassoon shows the rational mastering of the new reality conveying the idea of invalidity of old conceptions of heroic deed, faith, patriotism. In Owen’s lyrics the ethical and ideological angles are not dominating aesthetical and personality ones. Thestrengthoffraternalfriendship,of faith andthe sincerity of grief – that is what the lyrical hero should find over and over again to win the right of hope versus pessimism and despair. Rosenberg’s lyrical hero is interested in the transitory linked with the eternal, the patriotic – with the cosmopolitan, the attractive – with the ugly, the strong – with the weak, subjective – with the universal. All these are united in a man, poet, lyrical “self”. Exactly the man, not the war veteran: Rosenberg does not want to play the role of the doomed, that “key role” practiced by some war poets who thought they are demanded the revelation either of proper words or of shocking details. The metamorphoses insemantics and poetics of autobiographism are radically manifested in the changes of the very subject structure of lyrics of the war poets. The Sassoon’s role hero transforms into the lyrical persona of Owen and Rosenberg which is directed at “the other” and at the same time sees himself as “the other”.

Author Biography

Yevheniya Chernokova, Oles Honchar Dnipropetrovsk National University

The Department of Foreign Languages

Semen Kuznets Kharkiv National University of Economics

9a Lenin Avenue, 61166, Kharkiv, Ukraine


Hegel G. W. F. Estetika [Aesthetics]. Moscow, 1971, vol. 3, 623 p. (in Russian).

Lejeune Ph. W zashchitu avtobiografii [In defence of autobiography]. Inostrannaia literatura, 2000, no. 4, pp. 108–122. (in Russian).

Literaturoznavchyi slovnyk-dovidnyk [Literary terms dictionary]. Kyiv, 1997, 752 p. (in Ukrainian).

Medarich M. Avtobiografiia [Autobiography]. In: Avtointerpretatsiia [Autointerpretation]. Saint Petersburg, 1998, pp. 5–32. (in Russian).

Teoriia literatury [Theory of literature]. Moscow, 2010, 512 p. (in Russian).

Khalizev W. Teoriia literatury [Theory of literature]. Moscow, 2002, 437 p. (in Russian).

Bergonzi B. Late Victorian to Modernist (1880–1930). In: The Oxford Illustrated History of English Literature. Oxford, N.Y., 1990, pp. 379–430.

Bergonzi B. The Problem of War Poetry : Byron Foundation Lecture for 1990. Nottingham, 2010, 26 p.

Fussell P. The Great War and Modern Memory. London, 1979, 363 p.

Knowles O. Introduction. In: The Poems of Wilfred Owen. London, 2002, pp. 5–20.

Owen W. The Collected Letters. London, 1967, 629 p.

Perkins D. A History of Modern Poetry: From the 1890s to the High Modernist Mode. Cambridge, London, 1976, 624 p.

The Poems of Wilfred Owen. London, 2002, 112 p.

Selected Poetry of the First World War. London, 1995, 140 p.

Wilson J. V. Isaac Rosenberg: The Making of a Great War Poet. London, 2008, 512 p.



How to Cite

Chernokova, Y. “The Semantics and Poetics of Autobiographism in War Poets’ Lyrics”. Pitannâ lìteraturoznavstva, no. 89, Nov. 2014, pp. 71-85, doi:10.31861/pytlit2014.89.071.



Poetics and Methodology