Apologia Pro Poemate Meo.
"Of this I am certain," Owen told his mother on 31 October 1918, (and they were the last words of the last letter he was to write),"you could not be visited by a band of friends half so fine as surround me here."
It was one thing a war geared to acts of destruction could not destroy. It is what APOLOGIA PRO POEMATE is about.
"I have made fellowships" (17), we read, the durability of which Owen underlines through the metaphor of war.
…wound with war's hard wire whose stakes are strong;
Bound with the bandage of arm that drips;
Knit in the webbing of the rifle-thong. (24-4)
Comradeship, together with resentment of civilians who should be fighting in the war but were not, constitute solid statements in a poem that, giving as it does a divergent perspective on Owen's war experience, gives rise to certain questions, even doubts.
There is optimism here of a kind, though how well-grounded has yet to be decided. However, the regular stanzas, rhyme scheme, rhythm all help to lift it above the muted gravity that characterises so much of Owen's best work, although at the same time variations of metre (a mixture of iambs and trochees) prevent jauntiness.
We know that late in 1917, about the time APOLOGIA is dated, Robert Graves had recommended Owen to cheer up and write more optimistically. This advice had been accompanied by such praise as Owen decided entitled him to write to Susan Owen about it. It is more than tempting, therefore, to imagine him considering a more upbeat approach to his task. Be that as it may, we shall find nothing like the tone he adopts in APOLOGIA elsewhere in the poems.
I, too, saw God through mud - (1)
Although the pronoun indicates a personal poem, like THE SENTRY, DULCE ET DECORUM EST and THE DEAD BEAT, it is unlike them in not being rooted in detailed personal experience. And although it is unlike, for example, SPRING OFFENSIVE, THE SEND-OFF or ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH where Owen distances himself from the action, it is yet like those poems in that it encapsulates a note of prophecy.
War brought more glory to their eyes than blood… (3)
Glory! Not a word we find often in…