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Wilfred Owen Quotes

Wilfred Owen
  • Mini Bio
  • Name: Wilfred Edward Salter Owen
  • Born: 18th March 1893, Oswestry, Shropshire, England
  • Died: 4th November 1918, Sambre - Oise Canal, France
  • Resting place: Communal Cemetery, Ors, France
  • Alma mater: Shrewsbury Technical School
  • Occupation: Educator, soldier and war poet
  • Genre: War poetry
  • Awards: The Military Cross
  • Influenced by: John Keats, Lord Byron, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Rabindranath Tagore, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Siegfried Sassoon, William Blake and William Wordsworth
  • Trivia: During the celebrations on Armistice day 1918 his parents received the heart wrenching telegram informing them he was killed in action seven days before the peace treaty was signed ending the war

"Everything is unnatural, broken, blasted; the distortion of the dead, whose unbearable bodies sit outside the dug-outs all day, all night, the most execrable sights on earth"

Wilfred Owen

"For 12 days I did not wash my face, nor take off my boots, nor sleep a deep sleep. For 12 days we lay in holes where at any moment a shell might put us out"

Wilfred Owen

"I can see no excuse for deceiving you about these 4 days. I have suffered the seventh hell. I have not been at the front. I have been in front of it"

Wilfred Owen

"I kept alive on brandy, the fear of death, and the glorious prospect of the cathedral town just below us, glittering with the morning"

Wilfred Owen

"I don’t take the cigarette out of my mouth when I write Deceased over their letters. But one day I will write Deceased over many books"

Wilfred Owen

"Happy are men who yet before they are killed, can let their veins run cold, whom no compassion fleers"

Wilfred Owen

"I am started. The tugs have left me. I feel the great swelling of the open sea taking my galleon"

Wilfred Owen

"Red lips are not so red - As the stained stones kissed by the English dead"

Wilfred Owen

"I censored hundreds of letters yesterday, and the hope of peace was in every one"

Wilfred Owen

"Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, but limped on, blood-shod"

Wilfred Owen

"All a poet can do today is warn. That is why the true Poets must be truthful"

Wilfred Owen

"I shall be better able to cry my outcry, playing my part"

Wilfred Owen

"When I hearken to the Earth, she saith: My fiery heart shrinks, aching. It is death"

Wilfred Owen

"I know I shall be killed. But it’s the only place I can make my protest from"

Wilfred Owen

"My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity"

Wilfred Owen

"None will break ranks, though nations trek from progress"

Wilfred Owen

"Celebrity is the last infirmity I desire"

Wilfred Owen
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Wilfred Owen Biography

In the aftermath of a war where millions lost their lives, it can at first thought seem disrespectful to concentrate on the great loss of any one life in particular but, when that one life is Wilfred Owen the poet, who became the voice from the trenches, it can be seen through his actions that he wrote for every soldier on both sides of the wire.

Owen fought and lived the war witnessing and writing about a man made hell on earth where the suffering of silence had been the voice of the unknown soldier for too long.

Before falling victim to a mortar shell blast that rendered him unconscious for days, Owen won a medal for capturing a German machine gun post. He inflicted heavy losses on the enemy but, for all the bravado of the soldier, he still had it in his soul to write this line: "I am the enemy you killed, my friend" in the poem "Strange Meeting".

After recovering from his war injuries, Wilfred did not have to return to the front line but he chose to do so. He was a poet on a mission who had to be as close to the action for his poetry to have that cutting edge realism which his honour demanded.

Wilfred Owen was cut down by machine gun fire just seven days before the armistice was signed and the guns fell silent.

Heaven gained a poet extraordinaire whilst amongst the ashes of war his words rose into literary immortality. Wilfred Owen gave meaning where there was none, criticised where there was silence yet he walked bravely where generals feared to tread.

Wilfred Owen's poignant words struck a chord with the families of a generation lost, whose relatives were left grieving their sons and brothers whilst government officials contented themselves in their games of war played out by their subjects in fields of mud and blood. It was a far cry from the cigar stained corridors of power where politicians ears could not be pierced by the dying screams of someones son.

There is an aura of mystique about the revered war poets that evokes a range of emotions so broad it captivates the heart from whatever direction the mind had been leaning. Wilfred's early influences were the romantic poets such as Keats, Lord Byron and Shelley who all died at a relatively young age prompting literary sadness for their forever unwritten words.

In much the same way Wilfred Owens' early demise elevated his standing as a war poet to become the voice of a lost generation with two of his most poignant poems: "Anthem for Doomed Youth" and "Dulce et Decorum Est" leading the way.

His poetic output summed up the futility of war and reading some of his letters home was heart breaking, some of which have inspired me to create this compilation of 17 of the best Wilfred Owen quotes.

Quotes About Wilfred Owen

His friend and fellow war poet Siegfried Sassoon played down his influence by saying: "I stimulated him towards writing with compassionate and challenging realism.... My encouragement was opportune, and can claim to have given him a lively incentive during his rapid advance to self-revelation"

Siegfried Sassoon spoke mournfully of him: "Wilfred's death was an unhealed wound, and the ache of it has been with me ever since"

Siegfried Sassoon went on to add: "All that was strongest in Wilfred Owen survives in his poems"

The historian Jeremy Paxman called him: "For me, he is the greatest of all the war poets"

The poet Robert Graves once said to him reassuringly: "Don't make any mistake Owen, you are a damned fine poet already and are going to be more so"

Wilfred Owen Quote