Thinking of Wilfred Owen

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
This is a poem about the war poet Wilfred Owen who died a hundred years ago on November 4th. Visiting his grave in Ors always makes me think about the waste of human life and talent during The Great War.. I wrote this poem on the 4th of November 2018. For those who are unfamiliar with Owen's life or The Great War, it may be a good idea to read the notes I added before reading the poem itself.

Submitted: November 05, 2018

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Submitted: November 05, 2018

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Thinking of Wilfred Owen

 

Far away from the camp-bed at Mahim,1
where the small square of bright, yet hopeful light
allowed you to mull over how to  write
the early words worthy of our esteem;
 

Fighting brought you close to the edge of Ors,
where angry Maxims2 would cut short your dreams
of writing about lost friends’ final screams,
as gas and shells closed all their futures’ doors.
 

On that hellish, wet bank you bravely stood
with destruction and mayhem all around,
not knowing sudden death was to be found
when there was hope, and being back seemed good.
 

Now close to the people of Ors you lie
in that other makeshift, eternal bed.
Just rest assured, every word you said
is remembered, can still make us cry.

 

Bert Broomberg  November 4th 2018.

 

Wilfred Edward Salter Owen (March 18th 1893 – November 4th 1918)
 

Wilfred Owen was killed on the bank of The Sambre-Oise Canal near the village of Ors in Northern France. Owen was killed by machinegun fire during an attempt to lay a bridge across the Canal in order to attack the German forces on the other side of the canal. He was buried on the annex to the communal cemetery at Ors. Like so many soldiers at the time, Owen felt he belonged with his men, so he had returned to the front after having been treated for shellshock in Craiglockhart, Scotland. Owen fell just one week before the end of the war, when the German troops were retreating after the stalemate that had lasted for almost four years had been broken.


Notes.

 

  1. This was the house in Shrewsbury that the Owen family moved into in 1910. The house was situated at 71 Monkmoor Road. It was where Owen wrote some of his early poems.The following quotation is taken from the biography Wilfred Owen, Jon Stallworthy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 1974 page 51.

 

“In this house Wilfred had been given one of the rooms in the topmost story for a bedroom-study, again by his own choice, to secure for himself quietness and seclusion and to satisfy in him that harping dramatic urge for an attic. This particular one was ideally built to suit him, for the good-sized window projected over the roof, giving average ceiling height for a tiny square inside; this space just took his bookcase-writing-desk, leaving room for his chair. In this way, he had an excellent light to work by, while leaving the rest of the attic in romantic gloom. The roof itself formed one side of the small place, so that the wall came back almost from floor level at an angle of about forty-five degrees. It was not possible to put an ordinary bed under this but a camp-bed was fixed up for him, which added to the garret-like effect he so much cultivated.”

 

  1.  The standard German machinegun was the so-called Maxim, named after its American inventor Hiram Maxim. From 1915 onwards, the German army also used a lighter, more portable, machinegun, the so-called 08/15. It is unknown which type of machinegun Owen fell victim to.

 


© Copyright 2018 Bert Broomberg. All rights reserved.

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