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In both poems, nature is used as a vehicle to develop a sense of fear and helplessness within the people in the poems. However, while ‘Storm on the Island’ depicts the violent action and the destruction caused by nature to their island, ‘Exposure’ focuses on how nature plays the role of an enemy to the soldiers during the war; slowly and silently killing them all. Both poets present nature as a profoundly powerful and destructive force that can cause endless suffering and an immense amount of destruction.
Furthermore, both poems are written in first person plural. In ‘Exposure’, the first person plural reflects on how the soldiers’ experience of their suffering and hopelessness was shared between them. In ‘Storm on the Island, however, the use of the first person plural (“we”) shows how their experience was collective and communal. This could possibly suggest that the speaker believes that nature works against us humans and holds a significant amount of power over us thus is more destructive.
In ‘Storm on the Island’, the violence of nature is highlighted. Heaney uses a great deal of vivid description and use of sounds to create a sense of a violent storm throughout the poem. One way Heaney uses to describe the storm as destructive is by using war imagery. As the wind “pummels” the speaker’s house, he talks about how the “wind dives and strafes invisibly”. Here, Heaney compares the wind to a fighter plane ‘diving down’ and attacking the island, making the people seem weak and vulnerable; defenseless against the storm.
In ‘Exposure’ however, Owen personifies nature as if the natural elements are a greater threat than the opposition. As the soldiers “cringe in holes, they think about how nature’s “merciless iced east winds [...] knive” them. This quote conveys the wind as cruel and sinister and creates a dramatic image in the reader’s mind, clearly describing the physical pain that the soldiers were experiencing. Heaney also personifies ‘dawn’ using the language of battle. Dawn is usually considered to bring hope with however here, it only adds fuel to the fire where hope is being destroyed by nature.