First World War Poetry Digital Archive

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A PALINODE by WILFRED OWEN

Some little while ago, I had a mood When what we know as 'Nature' seemed to me So sympathetic, ample, sweet, and good That I preferred it to Society.

Not for a season, be it understood, But altogether and perpetually. As far as feeling went, I thought I could Be quit of men, live independently.

For men and minds, heart-humours and heart's-tease Disturbed without exciting: whereas woods, The seasonal changes, and the chanting seas Were both soul-rousing and sense-lulling. Moods,

Such moods prolonged, became a mania. I found the stark stretch of a bleak-blown moor Least barren of all places. Mere extranca Seemed populace and town: things to ignore.

But if the sovereign sun I might behold With condescension coming down benign, And blessing all the field and air with gold, Then the contentment of the world was mine.

In secret deserts where the night was nude And each excited star grew ardent-eyed, I tasted more than this life's plenitude, And far as farthest stars perceive, I spied.

Once, when the whiteness of the spectral moon Had terrorized the creatures of the wold, When that long staring of the glazed-eyed Had stupefied the land and made it cold,

I fell seduced into a madness; for, Forgetting in that night the life of days, I said I had no need of fellows more, I madly hated men and all their ways.

I hated, feeling hated; I supposed That others did not need me any more. The book of human knowledge I then closed; Passion, art, science? Trifles to ignore.

But in my error, men ignored not me, And did not let me in my moonbeams bask. And I took antidotes; though what they be Unless yourself be poisoned, do not ask.

For I am overdosed. The City now Holds all my passion; these my soul most feels: Crowds surging; racket of traffic; market row; Bridges, sonorous under rapid wheels;

Pacific lamentations of a bell; The smoking of the old men at their doors; All attitudes of children; the farewell And casting-off of ships for far-off shores.

Author Owen, Wilfred (1893-1918)
Title A Palinode
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 http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ww1lit/collections/item/3333