A poetic Hero.

For me, Wilfred Owen owns himself, a ‘sweetness, all fancy surpassing”.  This beautiful set of words sings itself to you, it sings of loveliness, and sexiness, and warmth.  Then it shows you the kill. The horror of the image is a young man, seventeen, perhaps eighteen years old, felled in the trenches.  His face upturned, lifeless, a tragic foreshortened life of a soldier. One of thousands. One of too many.  Wilfred Owen and poets like him, wrote their horror. Showed the survivors how brutal and inglorious war is.  Told it how it was. Do not believe in glory. Believe in blood, and carnage. And do everything in your power to influence the future, that war becomes a history, a thing of the past. That is their message. As powerful today, as it was then.

The photograph shows the bank where Owen and his ‘D’ company of the 2nd Battalion Manchester Regiment lined up  in readiness to cross the Sambre-Oise canal at Ors.They were to attack the Germans on the opposite bank.  Owen never made it.  He was last seen by a friend, experiencing heavy fire as he was trying make it across on a raft.

“… it is the preface, by Wilfred Owen, to a volume of his poems which was to show, to England, and the intolerant world, the foolishness, unnaturalness, horror, inhumanity, and insupportability of war, and to expose, so that all could suffer and see, the heroic lies, the willingness of the old to sacrifice the young, indifference, grief, the soul of soldiers …  he is a poet of all times, all places, and all wars. There is only one war: that of men against men.”
Dylan Thomas

Has Your Soul Sipped?

Has your soul sipped
Of the sweetness of all sweets?
Has it well supped
But yet hungers and sweats?

I have been witness
Of a strange sweetness,
All fancy surpassing
Past all supposing.

Passing the rays
Of the rubies of morning,
Or the soft rise
Of the moon; or the meaning
Known to the rose
Of her mystery and
mourning.

Sweeter than nocturnes
Of the wild nightingale
Or than love’s nectar
After life’s gall.

Sweeter than odours
Of living leaves,
Sweeter than ardours
Of dying loves.

Sweeter than death
And dreams hereafter
To one in dearth
Or life and its laughter.

Or the proud wound
The victor wears
Or the last end of all
wars.

Or the sweet murder
After long guard
Unto the martyr
Smiling at God;

To me was that smile,
Faint as a wan, worn myth,
Faint and exceeding small,
On a boy’s murdered mouth.

Though from his throat
The life-tide leaps
There was no threat
On his lips.

But with the bitter blood
And the death-smell
All his life’s sweetness bled
Into a smile.

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