‘Greater Love’: A Poem by Wilfred Owen

Among all of the Great War poets Britain produced, Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) stands as the greatest. Like a poet he greatly admired, John Keats, he was dead at the age of 25 but in his short life he managed to find his own distinctive poetic voice and used it to write poems of great emotive power and technical skill. ‘Greater Love’ is a fine example of what makes Wilfred Owen England’s pre-eminent poet of the First World War. For Remembrance Day and the centenary of the Armistice, here is one of Owen’s most moving poems.

‘Greater Love’ by Wilfred Owen

Red lips are not so red
As the stained stones kissed by the English dead.
Kindness of wooed and wooer
Seems shame to their love pure.
O Love, your eyes lose lure
When I behold eyes blinded in my stead!

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‘Insensibility’: A Poem by Wilfred Owen

‘Insensibility’ is one of the longest poems written by the pre-eminent English poet of the First World War, Wilfred Owen (1893-1918). Owen, who famously said that ‘the Poetry is in the pity’, explores in ‘Insensibility’ the way the war necessitates a closing-off of feeling in those who experience the horrors of the trenches. ‘Insensibility’ is about this loss of feeling and what it signifies. As well as being one of Wilfred Owen’s longest poems, ‘Insensibility’ is also, we feel, one of his great achievements as a poet.

‘Insensibility’ by Wilfred Owen

Happy are men who yet before they are killed
Can let their veins run cold.
Whom no compassion fleers
Or makes their feet
Sore on the alleys cobbled with their brothers.

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A Short Analysis of Wilfred Owen’s ‘The Send-Off’

Describing a group of new soldiers departing for the trenches by train, ‘The Send-Off’ is one of Wilfred Owen’s best poems. ‘The Send-Off’ muses upon the unknown fates of those young men who left for war. Do they now mock the women who gave them flowers to wish them goodwill as they left for the horrors of the Front?

The Send-Off

Down the close, darkening lanes they sang their way
To the siding-shed,
And lined the train with faces grimly gay.

Their breasts were stuck all white with wreath and spray
As men’s are, dead.

Dull porters watched them, and a casual tramp
Stood staring hard,
Sorry to miss them from the upland camp.

Then, unmoved, signals nodded, and a lamp
Winked to the guard.

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A Short Analysis of Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’

By Dr Oliver Tearle

‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ or, to give the phrase in full: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, Latin for ‘it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country’ (patria is where we get our word ‘patriotic’ from). The phrase originated in the Roman poet Horace, but in ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) famously rejects this idea.

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10 Classic Wilfred Owen Poems Everyone Should Read

The best poems of Wilfred Owen selected by Dr Oliver Tearle

Previously, we’ve selected ten of the best poems about the First World War; but of all the English poets to write about that conflict, one name towers above the rest: Wilfred Owen (1893-1918). Here’s our pick of Wilfred Owen’s ten best poems.

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