Apologia Pro Poemate Meo
Wilfred Owen, (1893-1918)
  • Owen's poems are marked with an extraordinary
  • compassion for the young victims of war.
  • Siegfried Sassoon corrected the error in Owen's latin title,
  • "Apologia Pro Poema Mea"
  • Written at Scarborough between November and December 1917.

  • 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 webbing 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.
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