by Wilfred Owen
MOVE him into the sun--
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.
Think how it wakes the seeds,--
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,
Full-nerved--still warm--too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
--O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?
Wilfred Owen's poem is a memorial to an Unknown Soldier; a poetic equivalent, in its way, to the famous Tomb in Westminster Abbey. We have no idea who the dead man is; we do not know whether he was even known to the poet, except in his death. Like the Unknown Soldier he is nameless, but with an anonymity at the opposite pole to abstraction. Our most personal experiences of love and loss respond for him. He is every young man dead and squandered in war.
The economy of the poem is remarkable. It is short enough to be inscribed on a tomb, and has something of the same finality.
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Modern Poetry:Studies in Practical Criticism. Contributors: C. B. Cox - Author, A. E. Dyson - Author. Publisher: Edward Arnold. Place of publication: London. Publication year: 1963. Page number: 52.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.