First 431 words of the document:
Wilfred Owen Context
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,
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
Dylan Thomas's comment on Owen's preface:
`It is the preface, by Wilfred Owen, to a volume of his poems which was to show, to England,
and the intolerant world, the foolishness, unnaturalness, horror, inhumanity, and
insupportability of war, and to expose, so that all could suffer and see, the heroic lies, the
willingness of the old to sacrifice the young, indifference, grief, the soul of soldiers...he is a
poet of all times, all places and all wars. There is only one war: that of men against men.'
Owen became critical of evangelical religion, and had an argument with the vicar,
who he was once the assistant to.
Wilfred Owen in letters
`I have suffered seventh hell.'
`an octopus of sucking clay'.
`men have been known to drown in them.' (referring to the craters left by shells
which filled with water).
`If I had kept him he would have lived.' (referring to first servant whom he rejected,
linking to The Sentry)
`mixed up with war' (referring to Owen when writing Miners)
`you could not be visited by a band of friends half so fine as surround me here.' (links
to comradeship in war, thus Apologia pro Poemate Meo)
Robert Graves recommended to Owen that should cheer up and write more optimistically:
Apologia pro Poemate Meo was written in light of this recommendation.
Wilfred Owen was against the glorification of war, and directed this hatred towards poets
such as Jessie Pope, whose jingoistic poems glorified war.
Other pages in this set
Here's a taster:
Wordsworth: poetry arises from `emotion recollected in tranquility'.
Owen and Sassoon were almost alone in their 1917 opposition to the war.
Owen wrote The Sentry eighteen months after the experience, suggesting that it was an
experience of great intensity.
Owen was diagnosed with shell-shock and thus sent to Craiglockhart, where he met
Siegfried Sassoon. One of his symptoms was nightmares, which often appears in his poems.
Siegfried Sassoon believed Strange Meeting was `Owen's passport to immortality.…read more