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Poem Title:  S.I.W.

Poem Category:  War Poems

Poet:  Wilfrid Owen

Poet Biography: 
Wilfred Owen was born 1893 in Oswestry (United Kingdom). He moved to Bordeaux (France) in 1913, as a teacher of English. He enlisted in the Artists' Rifles on 21st October 1915. Drafted to France in 1917 his total war experience was short: four months, from which only five weeks in the line. On this is based all his war poetry. After battle experience, thoroughly shocked by horrors of war, he went to Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh. Owen returned to France in 1918 and just seven days before war ended on 11th November 1918 at 11 o'clock, he was killed in one of the last vain battles of the war.



Poem: 
Patting goodbye, doubtless they told the lad
He'd always show the Hun a brave man's face;
Father would sooner him dead than in disgrace, --
Was proud to see him going, aye, and glad.
Perhaps his Mother whimpered how she'd fret
Until he got a nice, safe wound to nurse.
Sisters would wish girls too could shoot, charge, curse, . . .
Brothers -- would send his favourite cigarette,
Each week, month after month, they wrote the same,
Thinking him sheltered in some Y.M. Hut,
Where once an hour a bullet missed its aim
And misses teased the hunger of his brain.
His eyes grew old with wincing, and his hand
Reckless with ague. Courage leaked, as sand
From the best sandbags after years of rain.
But never leave, wound, fever, trench-foot, shock,
Untrapped the wretch. And death seemed still withheld
For torture of lying machinally shelled,
At the pleasure of this world's Powers who'd run amok.

He'd seen men shoot their hands, on night patrol,
Their people never knew. Yet they were vile.
"Death sooner than dishonour, that's the style!"
So Father said.

One dawn, our wire patrol
Carried him. This time, Death had not missed.
We could do nothing, but wipe his bleeding cough.
Could it be accident? -- Rifles go off . . .
Not sniped? No. (Later they found the English ball.)

It was the reasoned crisis of his soul.
Against the fires that would not burn him whole
But kept him for death's perjury and scoff
And life's half-promising, and both their riling.

With him they buried the muzzle his teeth had kissed,
And truthfully wrote the Mother "Tim died smiling."


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