Remembrance Day is an important day for me – a child of a much older father, I grew up in the shadow of a life that was blighted by the second world war. There were many evenings of tales that were told but there were many days too of a lifetime lost to horrific memories.
On this day, I remember those who died and those who lost a lifetime.
Anthem for doomed youth
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds.
Wilfred Owen (1893 – 1918) was one of the great war poets of WW1 alongside Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg and Rupert Brooke. Brooke’s work has been dismissed in more recent times despite his work being the ‘voice of the nation’ in its time.
Contrast Owen’s poem above to Rupert Brooke’s (1887-1915)
If I should die, think only this of me;
That there’s some corner in a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sound; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Why do you think that there was such a romantic air to Brooke’s poetry, which is in stark contrast to that of Owen?