chapter  5
A cognitive grammar of ‘Hospital Barge’ by Wilfred Owen
Editors’ preface
ByCraig Hamilton
Pages 12

Craig Hamilton’s analysis of Wilfred Owen’s poem ‘Hospital Barge’ makes use of the cognitive grammar initially devised by Ronald Langacker in the 1980s. Hamilton examines the notion of ‘profiling’ in relation to Owen’s depiction of a vivid wartime scene. ‘Hospital Barge’ describes the slow progress of a barge laden with wounded soldiers from World War I as it makes its way down the Somme. Hamilton provides a detailed analysis of how readers’ attention is directed around this poignant scene by means of the grammatical constructions contained within the poem. The chapter is perhaps most usefully read in conjunction with Peter Stockwell’s examination of figure and ground in surrealist poetry in Chapter 2. Together, these analyses provide a practical illustration of some of our most basic cognitive processes at work in our experience of literary texts.