Wilfred Owen quotes

Quotes from the Wilfred Owen poems for the OCR English Lit exam 2011

(Lots, more than you need tbh. However, it's better to be safe than sorry)

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Anthem for Doomed Youth.

  • "What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?"
  • "stuttering rifles' rapid rattle"
  • "shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;"
  • "not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes/shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes"
  • "each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds"
  • "no mockeries for them; on prayers nor bells"
  • "monstrous anger of the guns."
  • "hasty orisons"
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Arms and the Boy

  • "let the boy try along this bayonet-blade"
  • "how cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood"
  • "blind, blunt bullet-leads"
  • "nuzzle in the hearts of lads"
  • "are sharp with the sharpness of greif and death"
  • "God will grow no talons at his heels"
  • "his teeth seem for laughing round an apple"
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The Sentry

  • "Rain, guttering down in waterfalls of slime"
  • "left their curses in the den,/if not their corpses...."
  • "there we herded from the blast"
  • "eyeballs huge-bulged like squids"
  • "watch my dreams still, - yet I forgot him there"
  • "shrieking air"
  • "those other wretches, how they bled and spewed"
  • "I try not to remember these things now."
  • "we heard him shout/'I see your lights!' - but ours had long died out."
  • "dense din"
  • "Let Dread hark back for one word only: how,/half listening to that Sentry's moans and jumps,/and the wild chattering of his shivered teeth"
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A Terre

  • "being the philosophy of many soldiers"
  • "both arms have mutinied against me - brutes!
  • "my fingers fidget like ten idle brats"
  • "one dies of war like any old disease"
  • "I have my medals? - discs to make my eyes close./My glorious ribbons? - ripped from my own back/in scarlet shreds. (That's for your poetry book)"
  • "We used to say we'd hate to live dead old,-/yet now....I'd willingly be puffy bald/and patriotic"
  • "shooting, war, hunting, all the arts of hurting./Well, that's what I learnt, - that, and making money"
  • "For one year/to help myself to nothing more than air!/One spring!"
  • "grow me legs as quick as lilac shoots"
  • "here in this mummy case"
  • "Yes, or a muckman. Must I be his load?"
  • "O Life, Life, let me breathe"
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A Terre (cont.)

  • "Shelley would tell me. Shelley would be stunned:/the dullest Tommy hugs that fancy now"
  • "not worse than ours the lives rats lead"
  • "do you think the Boche will ever stew man soup?/some day, no doubt if..."
  • "I shall be better off with plants that share/more peaceably the meadow and the shower"
  • "soft rains will touch me"
  • "your guns may crash around me, I'll not hear"
  • "Don't take my soul's comfort for jest"
  • "My soul's a little grief, grappling at your chest/to climb your throat on sobs; easily chased/on other sighs and wiped by fresher winds."
  • "Carry my crying spirit, till it's weaned/to do without what blood remained these wounds"
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Dulce et Decorum Est

  • "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,/knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge" 
  • "men marched asleep"
  • "on the haunting flares we turned our backs"
  • "All went lame; all blind;/drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots/of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind"
  • "flound'ring like a man in fire or lime...."
  • "as under a green sea, I saw him drowning"
  • "in all my dreams before my helpless sight,/he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning."
  • "If in some smothering dreams you too could pace/ behind the wagon we flung him in"
  • "white eyes writhing in his face"
  • "his hanging face like a devil's sick of sin"
  • "froth corrupted lungs"
  • " vile incurable sores on innocent tongues"
  • "My friend you would not tell with such high zest/to children ardent for some desperate glory,/ the old Lie; Dulce et decorum est/pro patria mori"
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  • "A sigh of coal,/grown wistful of a former earth"
  • "I listened for a tale of leaves/and smothered ferns"
  • "my fire might show steam-phantoms simmer"
  • "Time's old cauldron"
  • "boys that slept wry sleep, and men/writhing for air"
  • "I saw white bones in the cinder-shard"
  • "Bones without number"
  • "many the muscled bodies charred,/and few remember"
  • "where Death reputes/peace lies indeed"
  • "comforted years will sit soft-chaired/in rooms of amber;/the years will stretch their hands, well cheered/by our life's ember"
  • "they will not dream of us poor lads,/left in the ground"
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  • "our brains ache, in the merciless iced east winds that knives us...."
  • "worried by the silence"
  • "we keep awake because the night is silent..."
  • "but nothing happens"
  • "watching, we hear the mad gusts tugging on the wire,/like twitching agonies of men among its brambles"
  • "a dull rumour of some other war"
  • "what are we doing here?"
  • "the poignant misery of dawn begins to grow..."
  • "we only know war lasts, rain soaks, and clouds sag stormy"
  • "flights of bullets streak the silence"
  • "the wind's nonchalance" 
  • "pale flakes with ********* stealth come feeling for our faces-/we cringe in holes, back on forgotten dreams, and stare"
  • "-Is it that we are dying?"
  • "slowly our ghosts drag home"
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Exposure (cont.)

  • "on us the doors are closed"
  • "we turn back to our dying"
  • "for love of God seems dying"
  • "Tonight, this frost will fasten this mud and us,/shrivelling many hands, puckering foreheads crisp"
  • "pause over half known faces. All their eyes are ice./but nothing happens"
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The Show

  • Reference to "W.B. Yeats"
  • "My soul looked down from a vague height, with Death"
  • "ditches, where they writhed and shrivelled, killed."
  • "I saw their bitten backs curve, loop and straighten/I watched those agonies curl, lift, and flatten"
  • "and Death fell with me, like a deepening moan."
  • "Showed me its feet, the feet of many men, and the fresh severed head of it, my head"
10 of 17


  • "happy are men who yet before they are killed/can let their veins run cold"
  • "with their brothers"
  • "they are troops who fade, not flowers"
  • "for poets' tearful fooling"
  • "men, gaps for filling"
  • "Chance's strange arithmetic" 
  • "Happy are these who lose imagination"
  • "they have enough to carry with ammunition/their spirits drag no pack"
  • "Their eyes are rid/of the hurt of the colour of blood forever"
  • "Can laugh among the dying, unconcerned" 
  • "Happy the lad whose mind was never trained"
  • "The long forlorn, relentless trend/from large day to huger night"
  • "blood over all our soul"
  • "by choice they made themselves immune/to pity and whatever mourns in man"
  • "hapless stars"
  • "the eternal reciprocity of tears"
  • "alive, he is not vital overmuch;/dying, not mortal overmuch"
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Apologia pro Poemate Meo

  • "I, too, saw God through mud"
  • "mud cracked on their cheeks when wretches smiled"
  • "war brought more glory to their eyes than blood/and gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child"
  • "death becomes absurd and life absurder"
  • "for power was on us as we slashed bones bare/not to feel sickness or remorse of murder"
  • "dead as my platoon"
  • "hopes lay strewn"
  • "I have made fellowships"
  • "For love is not the binding of fair lips"
  • "I have perceived much beauty/in hoarse oaths that kept courage straight;/heard music in the silentness of duty;/found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate."
  • "hell the sorrowful dark of hell"
  • "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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Strange Meeting

  • "out of battle I escaped"
  • "encumbered sleepers groaned"
  • "I probed them, one sprang up"
  • "piteous recognition in fixed eyes"
  • "lifting distressful hands as if to bless"
  • "by his dead smile I knew we stood in hell"
  • "no guns thumped, or down flues made moan"
  • "save the undone years/the hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours,/was my life also"
  • "the pity of war, the pity war distilled"
  • "courage was mine and I has mystery/wisdom was mine and I had mastery"
  • "miss the march of this retreating world"
  • "much blood had clogged their chariot-wheels"
  • "cess of war"
  • "foreheads of men have bled where no wound were."
  • "let us sleep now..."
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Mental Cases

  • "purgatorial shadows"
  • "dropping tongues from jaws that slob their relish/baring teeth that leer like shills' teeth wicked"
  • "gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets"
  • "surely we have perished/sleeping, and walk; but who these hellish?"
  • "minds the Dead have ravished"
  • "multitudinous murders they once witnessed"
  • "treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter"
  • "batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles"
  • "carnage incomparable, and human squander"
  • "their eyeballs shrink tormented/back into their brains"
  • "sunlight seems a blood-smear; night comes blood-black"
  • "dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh"
  • "set-smiling corpses"
  • "snatching after us who smote them, brother/pawing us who dealt them war and madness"
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  • "he sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark/and shivered in his ghastly suit of grey"
  • "legless, sewn short at elbow"
  • "voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn"
  • "before he threw away his knees"
  • "all of them touch him like some queer disease"
  • "younger than his youth, last year/not, he is old; his back will never brace"
  • "poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry"
  • "half his lifetime, lapsed in the hot race"
  • "he thought he'd better join"
  • "smiling they wrote his lie"
  • "no fears/of fear came yet"
  • "drafted out with drums and cheers"
  • "some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal"
  • "he will spend a few sick years in institutes"
  • "what things the rules consider wise"
  • "take whatever pity they may dole"
  • "passed from him to the strong men that were whole"
  • "how cold and late it is" Why don't they come,/and put him to bed? Why don't they come?"
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  • "whispering of fields half-sown"
  • "the kind old sun will know"
  • "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 day the clay grew tall?"
  • "-O what made fatuous sunbeams toil/to break earth's sleep at all?"
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The Last Laugh

  • "he said; and died"
  • "whether he vainly cursed or prayed indeed"
  • "the bullets chirped - In vain! Vain! Vain!/machine guns chuckled"
  • "then smiled, at nothing, childlike being dead."
  • "the lofty Shrapnel-cloud/leisurely gestured, - Fool!"
  • "splinters spat, and tittered"
  • "'my love!' one moaned. Love languid seemed his mood"
  • "his whole face kissed the mud"
  • "bayonets' long teeth grinned"
17 of 17




Great quotes :)

Though one of your quotes for the Sentry is slightly off, it should be: ''I see you lights!' - But ours had long gone out.' 

Rachael Bewick


Oh, mine copy from school says 'died out'.....idk though.

Thank you

Kate Freuchen


Found this through tumblr lol. thanks so much and good luck all in the exam tomorrow ahhhh :) **

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