Wilfred Owen wrote some of the best British poetry describing life on the Front Lines in World War I. His brutal depiction of trench warfare and its impact on the soldiers certainly contrasted with the patriotic verses at the start of the war. Suffering from shell-shock, he was sent to a hospital in Scotland to recuperate where he finalised many of his best-known poems. Sadly, in November 1918, he was killed in action at the age of 25, one week before the Armistice declared.
WILFRED OWEN'S PREFACE
Some time during the middle of 1918, Owen started to think about the publication of a collection of his poems. He got as far as making a provisional selection of the poems he wanted to include. He considered ‘Disabled’ and Other Poems’ as a possible title.
He also scribbled down a draft version of a preface for his poems. This unfinished outline has become one of the most famous literary statements in English Literature.
This book is not about heroes. English Poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. Nor is it about deeds or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, dominion or power, except War.
Above all, this book is not concerned with Poetry.
The subject of it is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity.
Yet these elegies are not to this generation, This is in no sense consolatory. They may be to the next. All the poet can do to-day is to warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful.
If I thought the letter of this book would last, I might have used proper names; but if the spirit of it survives Prussia, -- my ambition and those names will be content; for they will have achieved themselves fresher fields than Flanders.