Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
Perhaps the most original poet in the group, after describing the horrors of battle and the nightmares of shell shocks using tragic obsessive images, he then moved on to meditating upon the tragedy of youth sent to death by writing in the preface to a volume he did not live to publish, "My subject is War and the Pity of War. The poetry is in the Pity"
Of the two poems analyzed, only Read's can be considered a war poem, or rather a poem about the war. Neither of them, however, attains the intensity of Owen's poem Futility. Wilfred Owen was born near the Welsh border. His interest in literature led him to study French poetry in search of technical innovations. In October 1915 he enlisted. In December 1916 he was sent to France, and he spent the winter of 196-17 mainly in the trenches. During a period of ill health in a hospital near Edinburgh, he met and was deeply influenced by Siegfried Sassoon. In October 1918, as a company commander, he was awarded the M.C. (Military Cross) for bravery. He was killed in action in November 1918, a week before the armistice, while leading his men across a canal in Northern France. He is now considered the most important of the "war poets".
Move him into the sun—
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields half-sown.
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?