Ode to Owen

An Ode to Wilfred Owen in the style of ‘Dulce et decorum est’

Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC
18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918
Knives carve off limbs, flesh torn, dangling, serrated,
As skin mangled from claws on Christmas Turkey,
In war cries, angry men’s lives are narrated,
The line between liberation and invasion is ever murky,
Boys with blood sullied hands grip hair on severed heads,
Those that could have painted portraits,
Coloured from a pallet of the slaughtered instead,
Fed on fables; a prophesied paradise awaits,

We grow fat, in our ivory towers,
Safe from the stranger that bubbles fat and skin,
Like butter in a pan, from drone showers,
In war, does anybody win?
Greed dances between missiles of falling tears,
Precision strikes in the heart of our society,

What have we learned in one hundred years?
Wilfreds woes live on in propriety,

Eyes rattle and roll, jaws hang without screams,
Bodies rot, go putrid in a stupefied sun,
Pierced and hung, displayed with no head to dream,
In ancient squares, where civilisation begun,

Babylon had fallen - long before Saddam in Firdos Square,
Lines drawn on maps separate nations in the sand,
To say we have not learnt one thing, would be unfair,
We’ve learnt of it, how to better wash our hands,
Politicians bleed lies through crooked lips,
Contorted through years of kissing corrupt feet,
The only thing which is true, is found in deaths cold grip,
But, for distant sounds of innocence echoed on the ruined streets,
Still, children’s lives are worth less than ammo,
The old lie: which never dies, the same old story,
May only foreign babies be born to know;
Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.

Written for dVerses Poetics: Poems to a Poet.


Original poem by © Darius the Mate


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16 thoughts on “Ode to Owen

  1. This is incredibly potent! I am especially moved by; “We grow fat, in our ivory towers,/Safe from the stranger that bubbles fat and skin,/Like butter in a pan, from drone showers,/In war, does anybody win?”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You captured the feeling the war poets must have had in the trenches, Darius, and describing the horrors of war in the opening lines is an excellent hook, one that Owen employed. The simile ‘as skin mangled from claws on Christmas Turkey’ is particularly effective, reminding us that Christmas for those men was terrible, and so many of them lost their faith as well as their lives. These lines are particularly vivid:
    ‘Boys with blood sullied hands grip hair on severed heads,
    Those that could have painted portraits,
    Coloured from a pallet of the slaughtered instead’.
    The reminder that ‘we grow fat, in our ivory towers’ is also powerful, as is the question ‘What have we learned in one hundred years?’, and the quote at the end brings us full circle.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. The truth in all of its graphic hideousness.
    “Those that could have painted portraits,
    Coloured from a pallet of the slaughtered instead,”
    Only a poet from the trenches could write this.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is a visceral tribute and those end lines especially resonated. I also liked:

    ‘Greed dances between missiles of falling tears,
    Precision strikes in the heart of our society,

    What have we learned in one hundred years?’

    What indeed? War is big business for a select few, and innocent people pay the price.

    Liked by 1 person

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