Recently I read a collection of Wilfred Owen’s poems and loved their power and poignancy. If you’re interested in getting to know his work and aren’t sure where to start, here are my personal favourites:
1. Dulce et Decorum Est – This is probably the quintessential Owen poem. It is memorable for the sheer grotesque honesty of its imagery and it stayed with me for a long time after I first read it.
2. Disabled – I studied this poem at school but, if anything, reading it again only enhanced my appreciation of its tragic portrayal of a man physically incapacitated by the war.
3. The Send-Off – This poem is less graphic and violent than most of the other poems. It is calm and understated in an unsettling way which makes it all the more poignant.
4. S.I.W. – This poem describes the suicide of a soldier, a theme which is often neglected in war poetry and one which I was intrigued to read about.
5. The Show – A fantastically strange poem which describes the war from a birds’ eye view, featuring some grim but apt imagery.
6. The Parable of the Old Man and Young – I like Owen’s clever re-appropriation of Biblical language to carry his powerful message across.
7. Sonnet (written at Teignmouth, on a Pilgrimage to Keats’s House) – The imagery here is beautiful and, though written before the war, it mirrors the melancholy of Owen’s later poems eerily.