First World War Poetry Digital Archive


I, too, saw God through mud,--- The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled. War brought more glory to their eyes than blood, And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.

Merry it was to laugh there--- Where death becomes absurd and life absurder. For power was on us as we slashed bones bare Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder.

I, too, have dropped off Fear--- Behind the barrage, dead as my platoon, And sailed my spirit surging light and clear Past the entanglement where hopes lay strewn;

And witnessed exultation--- Faces that used to curse me, scowl for scowl, Shine and lift up with passion of oblation, Seraphic for an hour; though they were foul.

I have made fellowships--- Untold of happy lovers in old song. For love is not the binding of fair lips With the soft silk of eyes that look and long,

By Joy, whose ribbon slips,--- But wound with war's hard wire whose stakes are strong; Bound with the bandage of the arm that drips; Knit in the webbing of the rifle-thong.

I have perceived much beauty In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight; Heard music in the silentness of duty; Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.

Nevertheless, except you share With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell, Whose world is but the trembling of a flare And 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.

Author Owen, Wilfred (1893-1918)
Title Apologia Pro Poemate Meo
Item Date 1983
Repository name ProQuest
Copyright The Estate of Wilfred Owen. The Complete Poems and Fragments of Wilfred Owen edited by Jon Stallworthy first published by Chatto Windus, 1983. Preliminaries, introductory, editorial matter, manuscripts and fragments omitted.
Digital repository The First World War Poetry Digital Archive
Reference URL