Owen, Wilfred. title page. Poems. London: Chatto & Windus, 1920.World War I1920
Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) was a poet and WWI soldier born in Owestry on the English-Welsh border. He was interested in poetry from an early age, and was initially influenced by early nineteenth-century Romantic poetry. Owen enlisted in the British Army in 1915 where he later met fellow soldier poet Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon’s mentorship shaped the poems published in this collection. On November 4, 1918, Owen died while leading his men across the Sambre and Oise Canal near Ors, one week before the armistice. Sassoon undertook the task to publish this posthumous collection two years after Owen’s death. While few of Owen’s poems were published during his lifetime, the introduction by Sassoon and the reputation of the poems themselves helped solidify Owen’s status as the “Orpheus of trenches.” A lithograph print of Owen is included alongside the title page, and a preface drawn from Owen’s papers opens the volume. A note preceding Owen’s portrait acknowledges the work of the poet and critic Edith Sitwell in preparing the volume, and thanks four magazines where poems first appeared—The Athenaeum, The Nation, The Saturday Westminster Gazette, and Coterie—for the right to reprint Owen’s work. Notable works included in the collection include “Anthem for Doomed Youth,” “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” “Futility,” and “Strange Meeting.” In the introduction Sassoon gives biographical information and praises the work of Owen, particularly his experimentation with assonance and dissonance to confront the realities of war.