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Best Famous Wilfred Owen Poems

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by Wilfred Owen | |

Futility

 Move him into the sun --
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France, Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now The kind old sun will know.
Think how it wakes the seeds -- Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides Full-nerved, -- still warm, -- too hard to stir? Was it for this the clay grew tall? -- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil To break earth's sleep at all?


by Wilfred Owen | |

The Parable Of The Old Men And The Young

 So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together, Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father, Behold the preparations, fire and iron, But where the lamb for this burnt-offering? Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps, And builded parapets and trenches there, And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven, Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad, Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns, A Ram.
Offer the Ram of Pride instead.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son, And half the seed of Europe, one by one.


by Wilfred Owen | |

Anthem For Doomed Youth

 What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
 Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them; no prayers nor bells, Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, -- The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all? Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.


by Wilfred Owen | |

The Send-Off

 Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
To the siding-shed,
And lined the train with faces grimly gay.
Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray As men's are, dead.
Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp Stood staring hard, Sorry to miss them from the upland camp.
Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp Winked to the guard.
So secretly, like wrongs hushed-up, they went.
They were not ours: We never heard to which front these were sent.
Nor there if they yet mock what women meant Who gave them flowers.
Shall they return to beatings of great bells In wild trainloads? A few, a few, too few for drums and yells, May creep back, silent, to still village wells Up half-known roads.


by Wilfred Owen | |

The Last Laugh

 'O Jesus Christ! I'm hit,' he said; and died.
Whether he vainly cursed, or prayed indeed, The Bullets chirped - 'In vain! vain! vain!' Machine-guns chuckled, 'Tut-tut! Tut-tut!' And the Big Gun guffawed.
Another sighed, - 'O Mother, Mother! Dad!' Then smiled, at nothing, childlike, being dead.
And the lofty Shrapnel-cloud Leisurely gestured, - 'Fool!' And the falling splinters tittered.
'My Love!' one moaned.
Love-languid seemed his mood, Till, slowly lowered, his whole face kissed the mud.
And the Bayonets' long teeth grinned; Rabbles of Shells hooted and groaned; And the Gas hissed.


by Wilfred Owen | |

Arms And The Boy

 Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade
How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;
Blue with all malice, like a madman's flash;
And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh.
Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-heads Which long to muzzle in the hearts of lads.
Or give him cartridges of fine zinc teeth, Sharp with the sharpness of grief and death.
For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple.
There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple; And God will grow no talons at his heels, Nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.


by Wilfred Owen | |

Preface

 This book is not about heroes.
English Poetry is not yet fit to speak of them.
Nor is it about deeds or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, dominion or power, except War.
Above all, this book is not concerned with Poetry.
The subject of it is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity.
Yet these elegies are not to this generation, This is in no sense consolatory.
They may be to the next.
All the poet can do to-day is to warn.
That is why the true Poets must be truthful.
If I thought the letter of this book would last, I might have used proper names; but if the spirit of it survives Prussia, -- my ambition and those names will be content; for they will have achieved themselves fresher fields than Flanders.
Note.
-- This Preface was found, in an unfinished condition, among Wilfred Owen's papers.


by Wilfred Owen | |

The Young Soldier

 It is not death
Without hereafter
To one in dearth
Of life and its laughter,

Nor the sweet murder
Dealt slow and even
Unto the martyr
Smiling at heaven:

It is the smile
Faint as a (waning) myth,
Faint, and exceeding small
On a boy's murdered mouth.


by Wilfred Owen | |

Greater Love

 Red lips are not so red
 As the stained stones kissed by the English dead.
Kindness of wooed and wooer Seems shame to their love pure.
O Love, your eyes lose lure When I behold eyes blinded in my stead! Your slender attitude Trembles not exquisite like limbs knife-skewed, Rolling and rolling there Where God seems not to care; Till the fierce Love they bear Cramps them in death's extreme decrepitude.
Your voice sings not so soft, -- Though even as wind murmuring through raftered loft, -- Your dear voice is not dear, Gentle, and evening clear, As theirs whom none now hear Now earth has stopped their piteous mouths that coughed.
Heart, you were never hot, Nor large, nor full like hearts made great with shot; And though your hand be pale, Paler are all which trail Your cross through flame and hail: Weep, you may weep, for you may touch them not.


by Wilfred Owen | |

Winter Song

 The browns, the olives, and the yellows died,
And were swept up to heaven; where they glowed
Each dawn and set of sun till Christmastide,
And when the land lay pale for them, pale-snowed,
Fell back, and down the snow-drifts flamed and flowed.
From off your face, into the winds of winter, The sun-brown and the summer-gold are blowing; But they shall gleam with spiritual glinter, When paler beauty on your brows falls snowing, And through those snows my looks shall be soft-going.


by Wilfred Owen | |

The End

 After the blast of lightning from the east,
The flourish of loud clouds, the Chariot throne,
After the drums of time have rolled and ceased
And from the bronze west long retreat is blown,

Shall Life renew these bodies? Of a truth
All death will he annul, all tears assuage?
Or fill these void veins full again with youth
And wash with an immortal water age?

When I do ask white Age, he saith not so, --
"My head hangs weighed with snow.
" And when I hearken to the Earth she saith My fiery heart sinks aching.
It is death.
Mine ancient scars shall not be glorified Nor my titanic tears the seas be dried.
"


by Wilfred Owen | |

The Dead-Beat

 He dropped, -- more sullenly than wearily,
Lay stupid like a cod, heavy like meat,
And none of us could kick him to his feet;
Just blinked at my revolver, blearily;
-- Didn't appear to know a war was on,
Or see the blasted trench at which he stared.
"I'll do 'em in," he whined, "If this hand's spared, I'll murder them, I will.
" A low voice said, "It's Blighty, p'raps, he sees; his pluck's all gone, Dreaming of all the valiant, that AREN'T dead: Bold uncles, smiling ministerially; Maybe his brave young wife, getting her fun In some new home, improved materially.
It's not these stiffs have crazed him; nor the Hun.
" We sent him down at last, out of the way.
Unwounded; -- stout lad, too, before that strafe.
Malingering? Stretcher-bearers winked, "Not half!" Next day I heard the Doc.
's well-whiskied laugh: "That scum you sent last night soon died.
Hooray!"


by Wilfred Owen | |

Conscious

 His fingers wake, and flutter up the bed.
His eyes come open with a pull of will, Helped by the yellow may-flowers by his head.
A blind-cord drawls across the window-sill .
.
.
How smooth the floor of the ward is! what a rug! And who's that talking, somewhere out of sight? Why are they laughing? What's inside that jug? "Nurse! Doctor!" "Yes; all right, all right.
" But sudden dusk bewilders all the air -- There seems no time to want a drink of water.
Nurse looks so far away.
And everywhere Music and roses burnt through crimson slaughter.
Cold; cold; he's cold; and yet so hot: And there's no light to see the voices by -- No time to dream, and ask -- he knows not what.


by Wilfred Owen | |

The Chances

 I mind as 'ow the night afore that show
Us five got talking, -- we was in the know,
"Over the top to-morrer; boys, we're for it,
First wave we are, first ruddy wave; that's tore it.
" "Ah well," says Jimmy, -- an' 'e's seen some scrappin' -- "There ain't more nor five things as can 'appen; Ye get knocked out; else wounded -- bad or cushy; Scuppered; or nowt except yer feeling mushy.
" One of us got the knock-out, blown to chops.
T'other was hurt, like, losin' both 'is props.
An' one, to use the word of 'ypocrites, 'Ad the misfortoon to be took by Fritz.
Now me, I wasn't scratched, praise God Almighty (Though next time please I'll thank 'im for a blighty), But poor young Jim, 'e's livin' an' 'e's not; 'E reckoned 'e'd five chances, an' 'e's 'ad; 'E's wounded, killed, and pris'ner, all the lot -- The ruddy lot all rolled in one.
Jim's mad.


by Wilfred Owen | |

On Seeing A Piece Of Our Artillery Brought Into Action

 Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm,
Great gun towering towards Heaven, about to curse;
Sway steep against them, and for years rehearse
Huge imprecations like a blasting charm!
Reach at that Arrogance which needs thy harm,
And beat it down before its sins grow worse;
Spend our resentment, cannon,--yea, disburse
Our gold in shapes of flame, our breaths in storm.
Yet, for men's sakes whom thy vast malison Must wither innocent of enmity, Be not withdrawn, dark arm, thy spoilure done, Safe to the bosom of our prosperity.
But when thy spell be cast complete and whole, May God curse thee, and cut thee from our soul!


by Kenneth Patchen | |

Creation

 Wherever the dead are there they are and
Nothing more.
But you and I can expect To see angels in the meadowgrass that look Like cows - And wherever we are in paradise in furnished room without bath and six flights up Is all God! We read To one another, loving the sound of the s’s Slipping up on the f’s and much is good Enough to raise the hair on our heads, like Rilke and Wilfred Owen Any person who loves another person, Wherever in the world, is with us in this room - Even though there are battlefields.