Friday, November 04, 2005

Dead Poets

On the subject of war, terror and the death of literacy, today marks the 87th anniversary of the death of the English poet Wilfred Owen. If you have been living on another planet for the past century and have not read any Wilfred Owen, I suggest you begin with "Strange Meeting". For the rest of us, vale company commander Wilfred Owen, gunned down trying to capture a railway junction a week before the armistice. A sorry loss. Essential reading.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

With an Identity Disc

If ever I dreamed of my dead name
High in the heart of London, unsurpassed
By Time for ever, and the Fugitive, Fame,
There seeking a long sanctuary at last,

I better that; and recollect with shame
How once I longed to hide it from life's heats
Under those holy cypresses, the same
That shade always the quiet place of Keats,

Now rather thank I God there is no risk
Of gravers scoring it with florid screed,
But let my death be memoried on this disc.
Wear it, sweet friend. Inscribe no date nor deed.
But may thy heart-beat kiss it night and day,
Until the name grow vague and wear away

Wilfred Owen.

If I would have lived along with him in the trenches in World War I, I would have fallen in love with him, I'm sure. I have never seen a picture of him but there is no other poet who I have reconstructed so beautifully in my mind. I wouldn't even want to see a picture. We would be together in the dirt, blood and mud of the trenches, cuddling towards each other to protect us from the watery cold of our young twentieth century nightmare. We would be together until the last week of the war. Then he will die pointlessly. I would hold on to his body, cry over it, kiss it, try and breath it back to life. I would wonder how I could have saved his life, start blaming myself - not my dead lover lying in the mud looking as beautiful as ever he was - and ultimately be grateful for our time together. His death will always feel so pointless, as my life would after it. Our time would have never been enough. He can live on through me. I still have his poetry which I will read for better times. They are parts of him that will never die. I'd put my arms around his body and whisper "let us sleep now..."