Journal For Poetry Challenge#7 29,01,2012

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) is widely recognised as one of the greatest voices of the First World War. His self-appointed task was to speak for the men in his care, to show the ‘Pity of War’.

Owen’s enduring and influential poetry is evidence of his bleak realism, his energy and indignation, his compassion and his great technical skill.The Wilfred Owen Association was formed in 1989 to commemorate Wilfred Owen’s life and work. You can learn more at http://wilfredowen.org.uk/home/

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STRANGE MEETING                                                                                  

It seemed that out of battle I escaped
Down some profound dull tunnel, long since scooped
Through granites which titanic wars had groined.

Yet also there encumbered sleepers groaned,
Too fast in thought or death to be bestirred.
Then, as I probed them, one sprang up, and stared
With piteous recognition in fixed eyes,
Lifting distressful hands, as if to bless.
And by his smile, I knew that sullen hall,-
By his dead smile I knew we stood in Hell.

With a thousand pains that vision’s face was grained;
Yet no blood reached there from the upper ground,
And no guns thumped, or down the flues made moan.
“Strange friend,” I said, “here is no cause to mourn.”
“None,” said that other, “save the undone years,
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,
Was my life also, I went hunting wild
After the wildest beauty in the world,
Which lies not calm in eyes, or braided hair,
But mocks the steady running of the hour,
And if it grieves, grieves richlier than here.
For by my glee might many men have laughed,
And of my weeping something had been left,
Which must die now I mean the truth untold,
The pity of war, the pity war distilled.
Now men will go content with what we spoiled,
Or, discontent, boil bloody, and be spilled.
They will be swift with swiftness of the tigress.
None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress.
Courage was mine, and I had mystery,
Wisdom was mine, and I had mastery:
To miss the march of this retreating world
Into vain citadels that are not walled.
Then, when much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels,
I would go up and wash them from sweet wells,
Even with truths that lie too deep for taint.
I would have poured my spirit without stint
But not through wounds; not on the cess of war.
Foreheads of men have bled where no wounds were.
I am the enemy you killed, my friend.
I knew you in this dark: for so you frowned
Yesterday through me as you jabbed and killed.
I parried; but my hands were loath and cold.
Let us sleep now . . .”

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The Soldier unsure whether he is dead or sleeping finds himself deep under ground surrounded by many dead bodies. One is alive and they discuss the dire straits of war. The uselessness, the senseless waste of life. What they themselves have lost the life denied them. All for what, to fight an enemy, is this enemy so different to them . The soldier then notices that this man is the enemy. He is the same foe who he was just an hour ago fighting. Here they find each other in the same  hell.

There is no difference between them in other circumstances they could of been friends. War , blood, death and all for what!. The destruction of villages,towns, cities , the decimation of nearly whole nations, family, sweethearts, husbands wives, friend… For what …….. another war and then another …………and then ??

Poetry Challenge #7 is to create a journal of links and your reactions to poems by established (living or dead poets.) Details are here.  Example response is here. Mr. Linky for Challenge #7 is directly below:

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