Friday, March 21, 2008

What Happened Was...

The night we held our Wilfred Owen Birthday Reading, we never actually got to 'Dulce Et Decorum Est,' which was the last poem of Owen's I wanted to read out loud. Sometimes surprises come at you like a Tibetan yak. Instead, we read and talked about 'Greater Love' whose text is online at (accessed 3/21/08)

and also 'The Next War' whose text is online with commentary at (accessed 3/21/08).

Apparently the 'Greater Love' is something like nationalism, if it isn't actually nationalism. Owen's feelings toward the fighting and the Christian principles he knew so well are explored somewhat in this poem. There's a rich complexity there.

And the concluding lines of 'The Next War' echo the attitude he took on, according to the info at, in the last year of his life, 1918 (website accessed 3/16/08). Supposedly Owen decided to "turn his back on life. Talking to his brother whilst home on leave he said that he wanted to return to the front line. 'I know I shall be killed. But it's the only place I can make my protest from.'"

I think of the Dada artists of that time. Some of them refrained from producing art because they believed that so many people so willing to go to such a stupid war don't deserve great art. Remember the Dada artist Jacques Rigaut? He said one day in 1919, "If I'm alive ten years from now, I'm going to kill myself." He felt defeated by what he saw as immense stupidity in the war and the preparing for war and the celebrating of war, etc. He actually followed through on his declaration.

Maybe this time in history is when the word nihilism came into greater use?

-- "It is our goal to appreciate and improve our talents, to share our own work and to communicate the joys of poetry with others. Everyone's poetry is valued."
iver Junction Poets Mission Statement

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