Submit Your Poems
Get Your Premium Membership



Best Famous Wilfred Owen Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Wilfred Owen poems. This is a select list of the best famous Wilfred Owen poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Wilfred Owen poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Wilfred Owen poems.

Search for the best famous Wilfred Owen poems, articles about Wilfred Owen poems, poetry blogs, or anything else Wilfred Owen poem related using the PoetrySoup search engine at the top of the page.

See also: Best Member Poems

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 | |

Dulce Et Decorum Est

 Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep.
Many had lost their boots But limped on, blood-shod.
All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time; But someone still was yelling out and stumbling, And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.
.
.
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.
In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,-- My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori.


More great poems below...

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 | |

Smile Smile Smile

 Head to limp head, the sunk-eyed wounded scanned
Yesterday's Mail; the casualties (typed small)
And (large) Vast Booty from our Latest Haul.
Also, they read of Cheap Homes, not yet planned; For, said the paper, "When this war is done The men's first instinct will be making homes.
Meanwhile their foremost need is aerodromes, It being certain war has just begun.
Peace would do wrong to our undying dead, -- The sons we offered might regret they died If we got nothing lasting in their stead.
We must be solidly indemnified.
Though all be worthy Victory which all bought, We rulers sitting in this ancient spot Would wrong our very selves if we forgot The greatest glory will be theirs who fought, Who kept this nation in integrity.
" Nation? -- The half-limbed readers did not chafe But smiled at one another curiously Like secret men who know their secret safe.
This is the thing they know and never speak, That England one by one had fled to France (Not many elsewhere now save under France).
Pictures of these broad smiles appear each week, And people in whose voice real feeling rings Say: How they smile! They're happy now, poor things.
23rd September 1918.


by Wilfred Owen | |

Asleep

 Under his helmet, up against his pack,
After the many days of work and waking,
Sleep took him by the brow and laid him back.
And in the happy no-time of his sleeping, Death took him by the heart.
There was a quaking Of the aborted life within him leaping .
.
.
Then chest and sleepy arms once more fell slack.
And soon the slow, stray blood came creeping From the intrusive lead, like ants on track.
* * * Whether his deeper sleep lie shaded by the shaking Of great wings, and the thoughts that hung the stars, High pillowed on calm pillows of God's making Above these clouds, these rains, these sleets of lead, And these winds' scimitars; --Or whether yet his thin and sodden head Confuses more and more with the low mould, His hair being one with the grey grass And finished fields of autumns that are old .
.
.
Who knows? Who hopes? Who troubles? Let it pass! He sleeps.
He sleeps less tremulous, less cold Than we who must awake, and waking, say Alas!


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 | |

Mental Cases

 Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?
Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows,
Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish,
Baring teeth that leer like skulls' tongues wicked?
Stroke on stroke of pain, -- but what slow panic,
Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?
Ever from their hair and through their hand palms
Misery swelters.
Surely we have perished Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish? -- These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished.
Memory fingers in their hair of murders, Multitudinous murders they once witnessed.
Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander, Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter.
Always they must see these things and hear them, Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles, Carnage incomparable and human squander Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.
Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented Back into their brains, because on their sense Sunlight seems a bloodsmear; night comes blood-black; Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh -- Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous, Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses.
-- Thus their hands are plucking at each other; Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging; Snatching after us who smote them, brother, Pawing us who dealt them war and madness.


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 Sentry

 We'd found an old Boche dug-out, and he knew,
And gave us hell, for shell on frantic shell
Hammered on top, but never quite burst through.
Rain, guttering down in waterfalls of slime Kept slush waist high, that rising hour by hour, Choked up the steps too thick with clay to climb.
What murk of air remained stank old, and sour With fumes of whizz-bangs, and the smell of men Who'd lived there years, and left their curse in the den, If not their corpses.
.
.
.
There we herded from the blast Of whizz-bangs, but one found our door at last.
Buffeting eyes and breath, snuffing the candles.
And thud! flump! thud! down the steep steps came thumping And splashing in the flood, deluging muck -- The sentry's body; then his rifle, handles Of old Boche bombs, and mud in ruck on ruck.
We dredged him up, for killed, until he whined "O sir, my eyes -- I'm blind -- I'm blind, I'm blind!" Coaxing, I held a flame against his lids And said if he could see the least blurred light He was not blind; in time he'd get all right.
"I can't," he sobbed.
Eyeballs, huge-bulged like squids Watch my dreams still; but I forgot him there In posting next for duty, and sending a scout To beg a stretcher somewhere, and floundering about To other posts under the shrieking air.
Those other wretches, how they bled and spewed, And one who would have drowned himself for good, -- I try not to remember these things now.
Let dread hark back for one word only: how Half-listening to that sentry's moans and jumps, And the wild chattering of his broken teeth, Renewed most horribly whenever crumps Pummelled the roof and slogged the air beneath -- Through the dense din, I say, we heard him shout "I see your lights!" But ours had long died out.


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 | |

Apologia Pro Poemate Meo

 I, too, saw God through mud --
 The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled.
War brought more glory to their eyes than blood, And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.
Merry it was to laugh there -- Where death becomes absurd and life absurder.
For power was on us as we slashed bones bare Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder.
I, too, have dropped off fear -- Behind the barrage, dead as my platoon, And sailed my spirit surging, light and clear Past the entanglement where hopes lay strewn; And witnessed exultation -- Faces that used to curse me, scowl for scowl, Shine and lift up with passion of oblation, Seraphic for an hour; though they were foul.
I have made fellowships -- Untold of happy lovers in old song.
For love is not the binding of fair lips With the soft silk of eyes that look and long, By Joy, whose ribbon slips, -- But wound with war's hard wire whose stakes are strong; Bound with the bandage of the arm that drips; Knit in the welding of the rifle-thong.
I have perceived much beauty In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight; Heard music in the silentness of duty; Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.
Nevertheless, except you share With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell, Whose world is but the trembling of a flare, And heaven but as the highway for a shell, You shall not hear their mirth: You shall not come to think them well content By any jest of mine.
These men are worth Your tears: You are not worth their merriment.
November 1917.


by Wilfred Owen | |

Wild With All Regrets

 (Another version of "A Terre".
) To Siegfried Sassoon My arms have mutinied against me -- brutes! My fingers fidget like ten idle brats, My back's been stiff for hours, damned hours.
Death never gives his squad a Stand-at-ease.
I can't read.
There: it's no use.
Take your book.
A short life and a merry one, my buck! We said we'd hate to grow dead old.
But now, Not to live old seems awful: not to renew My boyhood with my boys, and teach 'em hitting, Shooting and hunting, -- all the arts of hurting! -- Well, that's what I learnt.
That, and making money.
Your fifty years in store seem none too many; But I've five minutes.
God! For just two years To help myself to this good air of yours! One Spring! Is one too hard to spare? Too long? Spring air would find its own way to my lung, And grow me legs as quick as lilac-shoots.
Yes, there's the orderly.
He'll change the sheets When I'm lugged out, oh, couldn't I do that? Here in this coffin of a bed, I've thought I'd like to kneel and sweep his floors for ever, -- And ask no nights off when the bustle's over, For I'd enjoy the dirt; who's prejudiced Against a grimed hand when his own's quite dust, -- Less live than specks that in the sun-shafts turn? Dear dust, -- in rooms, on roads, on faces' tan! I'd love to be a sweep's boy, black as Town; Yes, or a muckman.
Must I be his load? A flea would do.
If one chap wasn't bloody, Or went stone-cold, I'd find another body.
Which I shan't manage now.
Unless it's yours.
I shall stay in you, friend, for some few hours.
You'll feel my heavy spirit chill your chest, And climb your throat on sobs, until it's chased On sighs, and wiped from off your lips by wind.
I think on your rich breathing, brother, I'll be weaned To do without what blood remained me from my wound.
5th December 1917.


by Wilfred Owen | |

S. I. W.

 "I will to the King,
 And offer him consolation in his trouble,
 For that man there has set his teeth to die,
 And being one that hates obedience,
 Discipline, and orderliness of life,
 I cannot mourn him.
" W.
B.
Yeats.
Patting goodbye, doubtless they told the lad He'd always show the Hun a brave man's face; Father would sooner him dead than in disgrace, -- Was proud to see him going, aye, and glad.
Perhaps his Mother whimpered how she'd fret Until he got a nice, safe wound to nurse.
Sisters would wish girls too could shoot, charge, curse, .
.
.
Brothers -- would send his favourite cigarette, Each week, month after month, they wrote the same, Thinking him sheltered in some Y.
M.
Hut, Where once an hour a bullet missed its aim And misses teased the hunger of his brain.
His eyes grew old with wincing, and his hand Reckless with ague.
Courage leaked, as sand From the best sandbags after years of rain.
But never leave, wound, fever, trench-foot, shock, Untrapped the wretch.
And death seemed still withheld For torture of lying machinally shelled, At the pleasure of this world's Powers who'd run amok.
He'd seen men shoot their hands, on night patrol, Their people never knew.
Yet they were vile.
"Death sooner than dishonour, that's the style!" So Father said.
One dawn, our wire patrol Carried him.
This time, Death had not missed.
We could do nothing, but wipe his bleeding cough.
Could it be accident? -- Rifles go off .
.
.
Not sniped? No.
(Later they found the English ball.
) It was the reasoned crisis of his soul.
Against the fires that would not burn him whole But kept him for death's perjury and scoff And life's half-promising, and both their riling.
With him they buried the muzzle his teeth had kissed, And truthfully wrote the Mother "Tim died smiling.
"


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 Show

 My soul looked down from a vague height with Death,
As unremembering how I rose or why,
And saw a sad land, weak with sweats of dearth,
Gray, cratered like the moon with hollow woe,
And fitted with great pocks and scabs of plaques.
Across its beard, that horror of harsh wire, There moved thin caterpillars, slowly uncoiled.
It seemed they pushed themselves to be as plugs Of ditches, where they writhed and shrivelled, killed.
By them had slimy paths been trailed and scraped Round myriad warts that might be little hills.
From gloom's last dregs these long-strung creatures crept, And vanished out of dawn down hidden holes.
(And smell came up from those foul openings As out of mouths, or deep wounds deepening.
) On dithering feet upgathered, more and more, Brown strings towards strings of gray, with bristling spines, All migrants from green fields, intent on mire.
Those that were gray, of more abundant spawns, Ramped on the rest and ate them and were eaten.
I saw their bitten backs curve, loop, and straighten, I watched those agonies curl, lift, and flatten.
Whereat, in terror what that sight might mean, I reeled and shivered earthward like a feather.
And Death fell with me, like a deepening moan.
And He, picking a manner of worm, which half had hid Its bruises in the earth, but crawled no further, Showed me its feet, the feet of many men, And the fresh-severed head of it, my head.


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.