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The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen (New Directions Book) Paperback – January 17, 1965
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From the opening declaration " Above all, I am not concerned with Poetry... My subject is War, and the pity of War..." through the dreamlike madness of "Strange Meeting" to the elegiac fury of "Anthem for Doomed Youth", Owen hones the poetic craft he learned as a juvenile romantic versifier into a rapier on which he skewers the futility of the war, the blind official stupidity which kept it going, and the inhumanity shown by each side to its own men as well as the enemy.
Killed in action not long before the Armistice, Owen saw little publication of his work. However, his verse- carefully arranged, meticulously researched and documented by Cecil Day Lewis- is not only his epitaph. As relevant and affecting today as in 1918, it's as fine a counter-argument as any ever written against those who dismiss poetry as flowery nonsense. And for the rest of us? Few media can express the true nature and terrible costs of the First World War as eloquently as poetry at its finest can- and Owen provides it in plenty.
'Anthem for Doomed Youth' may just be the most powerful of all anti-war poems, and it was voted 8th in a list of Britain's favourite poems in a BBC poll. This poem like Owen's work generally is written in an unpretentious style. His poetry is very moving, but without being sentimental. He's painting pictures with words, and the pictures aren't pretty.
All his renowned work is here, including 'Dulce et Decorum est', 'Disabled', and 'Mental Cases'. The notes are very interesting, as you'd expect from a literary heavyweight like C. Day Lewis, and there's also some of Owen's non war poetry, but that's still bleak!
If you want to buy any book of Owen's work, I'd recommend this one for starters.
In places, Owen gives us the guns of war--brutal, percussive descriptions of death as in "Anthem"; in other places, Owen laments delicately as in "Futility" (pg. 135) which is difficult to read without becoming tearful.
Owen shows us a world "wound with war's hard wire" that is "but the trembling of a flare," but Owen also perceives beauty "in hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight" and even finds peace "where shell storms spouted reddest spate."
Owen did not believe that we could fully understand war except we share in the "sorrowful dark of hell" as he experienced it. For we civilians who, thanks to brave soldiers, have not experienced war first-hand, Wilfred Owen brings us as near as we may possibly get.
For me, Owen is the greatest poet ever to write about war. His poetry articulates the duality of "war's hard wire"--the barbs of painful experience and the strong wire that binds our hearts in fellowship and in the "silentness of duty."
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I tell everyone if it's possible to have a crush on a long gone WWI soldier and poet, I have done it. I love these poems. Owen's skill and heart shine through. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
One the all-time greatest war poets, and great poet in general. So highly recommended for anyone who wants to read intense and honest poetry. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Kristin Davisson
This was a horrible war and its largely forgotten today. That anybody could think of writing poetry while having German machine gun bullets, shells and mustard or chlorine gas as... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Amazon Customer
This is a group of stunningly beautiful poems by probably the top World War 1 combat soldier poet.Published 16 months ago by wmackay