Classic Poetry from Passions in Poetry
Wilfred Owen 1893 - 1918
English poet. Now considered as one of the finest English 'war poets', he remained relatively unknown until an edition of his poems was published in 1931 with a Memoir in by Edmund Blunden. Previously his poetry had been collected and published in 1920 by Owen's friend, the poet Siegfried Sassoon.
Most of his work was produced between the years 1915 and 1918 and detailed his horrific experiences in the trenches during World War I. 'The Collected Poems' were published in 1963 and were chosen by the composer Britten for his 'War Requiem'.
Other 'war poets' include Rupert Brooke and Siegfried Sassoon.
Wilfred Owen was born near Oswestry, Shropshire, where his father worked on the railway. He was educated at the Birkenhead Institute, Liverpool and Shrewsbury Technical College. He worked as a pupil-teacher in a poor country parish before a shortage of money forced him to drop his hopes of studying at the University of London and take up a teaching post in Bordeaux (1913). He was tutoring in the Pyrenees when war was declared and enlisted as shortly afterwards.
In 1917 he suffered severe concussion and 'trench-fever' whilst fighting on the Somme and spent a period recuperating at Craiglockart War Hospital, near Edinburgh. It was he that he met Siegfried Sassoon who read his poems, suggested how they might be improved, and offered him much encouragement.
He was posted back to France in 1918 where he won the MC before being killed on the Sombre Canal a week before the Armistice was signed.
His poetry owes its beauty to a deep ingrained sense of compassion coupled with grim realism. Owen is also acknowledged as a technically accomplished poet and master of metrical variety.
Poems such as 'Dulce Decorum Est' and 'Anthem for doomed Youth' have done much to influence our attitudes towards war.