Thursday, March 31, 2011

Poetry Splash: Wilfred Owen (plus some artwork)

Recently in AP Euro, we covered the First World War, including its cultural movements. I discovered that I love WWI art and poetry! There were some great poems included in one assignment that I did; here are two of my favorite shorter ones, which both happen to be by Wilfred Owen (of "Dulce et Decorum Est" fame).

"On Seeing a Piece of Heavy Artillery Brought Into Action"

Be slowly lifted up, thou long black arm,
Great Gun towering towards Heaven, about to curse;
Sway steep against them, and for years rehearse
Huge imprecations like a blasting charm!
Reach at that Arrogance which needs thy harm,
And beat it down before its sins grow worse.
Spend our resentment, cannon -- yea, disburse
Our gold in shapes of flame, our breaths in storm.

Yet, for men's sakes whom thy vast malison
Must wither innocent of enmity,
Be not withdrawn, dark arm, thy spoilure done,
Safe to the bosom of our prosperity.
But when thy spell be cast complete and whole,
May God curse thee, and cut thee from our soul!

"The Parable of the Old Man and the Young"

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and strops,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold,
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

And some artwork that I liked:
Assault Under Gas, Otto Dix (1924)

A Bursting Shell by C.R.W. Nevinson (1915)

The Destruction of the Turkish Transport in the Gorge of the Wadi Fara, Palestine, 1918 by Sydney Carline (1920)

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