Friday, 24 August 2007

August poet: 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.


When I started this blog two months ago my intended focus was writing, books, publication, and random subjects that impact my life. I rarely discuss religion or politics in my daily transactions, and I have no intention of discussing these on this blog. Sometimes, however, there is no way of separating politics or religion from life, or from literature. And lately, especially after I watch the news every night and am sickened anew, I'm haunted by Wilfred Owen's poems on the horrors of war.

The poems speak for themselves, with piercing irony. Most were published posthumously - he was killed in action in 1918, a week before the end of the First World War. He was 25.

9 comments:

The Anti-Wife said...

I don't watch the news. Until they start featuring as much good news as bad, I won't participate. Wonderful poem!

Kanani said...

I love this poem.
I find that my writing is inspired by very deep interests. For me, it's impossible to separate writing from politics to other current events. I write about all of it on my blog --it is who I am, what I think, how I create.

wordtryst said...

Anti-wife, I try to watch the news regularly but every now and then I reach my threshold and take a vacation from all the war, murder, disaster and general mayhem.

Kanani, so do I. It was a toss-up between Greater Love and Dulce Et Decorum Est, my other favourite. Unlike you, I try to compartmentalize, but it's difficult sometimes.

aka_lol said...

Amazing Poem.

It's a pity the people who love war never become victim to it in the battlefield. Here is another Wilfred Owen poem about the horrors of gas warfare.

Dulce Et
Decorum Est

wordtryst said...

Absolutely, aka_lol. If the warmongers and their children had to fight in the frontlines they would think twice about waging these unnecessary wars.

Dulce Et Decorum Est is my other favourite Owen poem, and there are others I love almost as much, like Futility, Anthem for Doomed Youth and Inspection, which is one I don't see listed in some of the collections of his work.

I've got to go learn some HTML. Would love to be able to put italics, bold text and hyperlinks in my comments, but don't know how.

aka_lol said...

I hope this helps. Simple
HTML for blogger.com comments by aka_lol.
The first line is for inserting a link. The second is for making a word or words bold. The third is for italics. Try it out with the comments in preview mode first:)

wordtryst said...

aka_lol, thank you sooooo much. You've made this really, really easy for me.

KeVin K. said...

Powerful poem.

My news comes via the internet these days. I don't have time for TV -- which can really handicap me as a writer. Back when I delivered newspapers I used to listen to the BBC. That gave me an insight into how folks elsewhere see events, something that's carried over into my internet news hopping. In addition to touching familiar bases, I access non-USA news sources for balance.

As for your decision to focus on writing in your blog, after over a year my own live journal is still in search of identity. I tend to write about events in my life as much as I write about writing. I do not write about my work except in very general terms out of respect for the people we serve.

And I do not write about my Christian faith very much. This may seem unusual in a minister, but I am following the apostle Paul's advice and avoiding foolish controversies. (His point being no one ever changed their mind -- or heart -- as the result of an intellectual debate. Such arguments waste time and create enemies.) Many of my online friends -- and some of my personal friends -- are pagans. One or two others are former Christians openly hostile to Christianity and many classify any form of religious belief as evidence of emotional and intellectual immaturity. If asked, I answer. And I try to dispel misconceptions when I come across them. But otherwise, I leave religion alone. (As I write this, it occurs to me I may have to rethink that last position; discretion is not always wisdom.)

Altogether another thought provoking post.
Easy to see why you get nominated for so many awards.

wordtryst said...

I don't see how not watching much TV can handicap you. Not having time for reading, yes. Much of what is on TV is just dross (imho). I also watch the BBC news regularly; more balanced, yes, but I watch all with deep reservations.

Blog identity must evolve with time, I suppose. I'm finding myself writing many posts that have nothing to do with writing per se, despite my best intentions. Que sera.

Not writing about your Christian faith is a positive in my book. I tend to avoid people who go on and on about their faith. For me faith is about the way you live, not what you preach. Evangelizing people bring out the subbornness in me (and I admit I have huge reserves of that), because they tend to approach with an "I'm right, you're wrong" attitude that pi**es me off from the get-go. The apostle Paul was right. I think that your approach embodies both wisdom and discretion.