Sunday, 20 February 2011

Wilfred Owen and Henry Moore

Was watching a documentary about the sculptor Henry Moore tonight, when up came this poem by Wilfred Owen (Moore had been gassed during the first world war). I had forgotten how moved I was when I studied this at school:
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 the boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
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)

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