Saturday November 12, 2005
Adrift in a morass of jingoistic aggressive remembrance, and in my own personal memories of war, of fallen friends and family, I have nothing I wish to say for myself today. Exercising my poet’s right, I turn to Wilfred Owen for suitable words:
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.
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)
Seven days before the Armistice, Owen was caught in a German machine gun attack and killed. He was twenty-five years of age.
The bells were ringing in Shrewsbury on November 11, 1918, to celebrate the Armistice when the doorbell rang at his parent’s home, bringing them the telegram telling them their son was dead.
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