“O what made fatuous sunbeams toil/ To break earth’s sleep at all” Explain the lines from “Futility”

—O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth’s sleep at all? (lines 13-14)

These are the concluding lines of Wilfred Owen’s war poem Futility. The poet indicates here how the brutal business of war sets at nought the very creative process in this world.

The sight of the dead body of his comrade fills the mind of the solder-poet with sad thoughts. The poignant tragedy caused by war leads him to contemplate the futility of all creative processes in a war-torn world. Every day the sun used to toil to make the young soldier active and energetic. But the man now lies cold and stiff. All the efforts of the sun to enliven him are spoilt by the effect of war. This hard truth embitters the poet’s mind and makes him feel that the sun is working in vain to warm up the life of man in a warring world. All the toil of the sun to give life and energy to man has come to nothing ultimately. The brutal force of war has devoured the labour of the sun to make life graceful and dynamic. The poet sadly feels that there is no meaning and purpose of the work of the sun if man is ever to be killed untimely by the unsparing, dreadful blow of war.

Owen’s lines significantly bring out the pathetic helplessness of all creative processes before the destructive design of the war. The lines are the powerful exposure of the utter futility of life and all creative processes to enthuse this against the unsparing havoc of war.

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