1100 hrs 11 November
Wilfred Owen Part 1
Wilfred Owen, the great British war poet died senselessly in battle, like millions of other soldiers, during the last few days of WWI.
The second lieutenant was killed in action as he led a raiding party across the Sambre-Oise Canal in northern France, just before the Armistice was signed and the First World War brought to a close. His mother received the news by telegram on Armistice Day as the church bells of Shrewsbury rang out in celebration of victory.
Like John Keats before him, a poet the young Owen greatly admired and whose Hampstead house he made a pilgrimage to, Owen was just 25 when he met his end, the extent of his achievement all the more extraordinary given the brevity of his time on earth.
The poems for which Wilfred Owen is remembered capture the death and destruction of the battlefield in unflinching detail, his graphic reportage of bootless soldiers trudging exhausted through mud, choking on mustard gas and dying for nothing tangled in briars of barbed wire making a nonsense of the customary patriotic tub-thumping about duty and heroism.
Be stung by the poetic poignancy from the extracts of his verse, which you can read in Part 2 in a few days time.
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