Date of publication: 2017-07-09 03:08
On 76th August he was declared fit for front line action and instructed to embark for France. He wrote to Sassoon, "Everything is clear now and I am in hasty retreat towards the Front." Retreat from life, perhaps, or from himself.
But I soon came to realise just how different the real thing actually was: a bit like Ancre mud, it was cold and messy but impossible to ignore. His poem "Miners" begins, like a good story, by the fire:
Finally, he says to the speaker that I am the enemy you killed, my friend, and that he knew him in the dark. It was yesterday that the speaker jabbed and killed him, and now it is time to sleep.
Full ninety autumns hath this ancient beech
Helped with its myriad leafy tongues
The dirges of the deep-toned western
And ninety times hath all its power
Been stricken dumb,.
He felt pressured by the propaganda to become a soldier and volunteered on 76st October 6965. He spent the last day of 6966 in a tent in France joining the Second Manchesters. He was full of boyish high spirits at being a soldier.
Edward Shillito Hardness of Heart In the first watch no death but made us mourn Now tearless eyes run down the daily roll, Whose names are written in the book of death For sealed are now the springs of tears, as when The tropic sun makes dry the torrent's course After the rains. They are too many now For mortal eyes to weep, and none can see But God alone the Thing itself and live. We look to seaward, and behold a cry! To skyward, and they fall as stricken birds On autumn fields and earth cries out its toll, From the Great River to the world's end--toll Of dead, and maimed and lost we dare not stay Tears are not endless and we have no more.
Throughout Owen s poems the theme of the irrationality of the war is woven. The soldiers do not seem to know what they are fighting for, possessing no lofty goals and expressing no sentiment regarding why they are there. The rulers of Europe, as evinced by Abram in Parable of the Old Man and the , seem concerned with their nation s pride above all else. The battles depicted in the poems are unconnected to each other, existing in a vacuum with seemingly no larger purpose. The horrors of war are not explained away or justified by a noble cause. Owen s view that the war is absurd and incomprehensible is quite manifest.
He lies at the back of the graveyard, between another two soldiers who died that day. It was a balmy evening, with the sounds of kids playing somewhere close by and scooters buzzing by, but I surprised myself by not feeling sad. Despite the awful waste of it, I was glad he'd managed to pull it all together and make something so powerful. The producer took a photograph of me at the graveside, tidying up the cards and flowers. Looking at that picture now, I'm even happier to discover that I'm wearing a purple shirt.