Eleven Eleven Eleven

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

Owen was just 25 when he was killed on 4th November, one week before the armistice. His mother received the telegram bearing the news of his death on this day 93 years ago as the Armistice bells were ringing in celebration.



  1. What a beautiful and profoundly sad post. All the more so because it still applies. Today.

  2. Thanks Sue - that's one I didn't know. My favourite is:

    Dulce et Decorum est

    Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
    Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
    Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
    And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
    Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
    But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
    Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
    Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

    Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! -- An ecstasy of fumbling
    Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
    But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
    And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. --
    Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
    As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

    In all my dreams before my helpless sight
    He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

    If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
    Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
    And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
    His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
    If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
    Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
    Bitter as the cud
    Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, --
    My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
    To children ardent for some desperate glory,
    The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    The descriptiveness in there makes the blood run cold.

  3. Thanks Sue, thinking today particularly about my two friends who are mothers with sons currently serving overseas and for whom your post is the stuff of their nightmares. Mel.

  4. Lovely post - makes you think doesn't it - what if things had gone the other way?

  5. It is so sad that in this 'enlightened' age we still have wars and people killing each other. When will the people of this beautiful planet be able to live beside each other with love in their hearts and not fear.
    x Sandi

  6. Anonymous11:28 am GMT

    Thank you,Sue.

    93 years on sons are still dying on foreign soil. When will we learn?

  7. I never saw poppies in a field until I saw them in England. Then, I fully understood the meaning of the poppy associated with the World War I poets. Thank you for this beautiful post.

  8. A beautiful post Sue. I remember my Mum reading me this poem when I was maybe 8 or 9 and it's always been a favourite. I didn't know about the timing of that telegram though, how poignant. The war to end wars, if only!

  9. Such a sad story.
    Beautiful picture.

  10. Anonymous2:44 pm GMT

    I had no idea about the timing of the telegram. Just the other day the girls, who bought poppies at school, were asking exactly how the war was "stopped". By which they meant the precise timing of 11.11.11. It is such a peculiar thought isn't it? One minute at war, literally, and then not. Devastating for Owen's mother.

  11. Very well chosen poem, and very befitting to the writer who died at such a young age. Such a waste.

    I used to be an army wife and at times it was hard but nowadays there is war everywhere and a real possibility of death for forces families. I cannot begin to imagine what it feels like to lose a son in this way. Sadly over the world, all too many mothers do.

    Amazing that such a young man had such a great talent. At least his words live on.

  12. You're lovely poppy pictures brought me here, Wilfred Owen made me stay awhile. Thank-you!

  13. Exactly ... the awful futility of it all .
    My grandfather went through the First World War , only to fight again in the Second , as did so many brave men .
    And still we send boys off to kill each other .... in the name of peace .

  14. My mother was born in 1917, in time to keep my grandfather out of the war. We many cousins remark often how different things might have been had he had to go to war, none of us might even be on the planet. Lovely, poignant post.

  15. You`ve disappeared from my reader and yesterday I thought that I hadn`t seen your blog in a while so I need to investigate! When I was at school, we studied Wilfred Owen and I was given a copy of his complete works and all the poems with WO`s annotations. I still have it and absolutely treasure it. Thanks for reminding me of his incredible poetry.

  16. Lovely poignant poem, Sue, and very beautiful photos.


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