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Wilfred Owen

Mental Cases

Who are these? Why sit they here in twilight?
Wherefore rock they, purgatorial shadows,
Drooping tongues from jaws that slob their relish,
Baring teeth that leer like skulls' tongues wicked?
Stroke on stroke of pain, — but what slow panic,
Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?
Ever from their hair and through their hand palms
Misery swelters. Surely we have perished
Sleeping, and walk hell; but who these hellish?

— These are men whose minds the Dead have ravished.
Memory fingers in their hair of murders,
Multitudinous murders they once witnessed.
Wading sloughs of flesh these helpless wander,
Treading blood from lungs that had loved laughter.
Always they must see these things and hear them,
Batter of guns and shatter of flying muscles,
Carnage incomparable and human squander
Rucked too thick for these men's extrication.

Therefore still their eyeballs shrink tormented
Back into their brains, because on their sense
Sunlight seems a bloodsmear; night comes blood-black;
Dawn breaks open like a wound that bleeds afresh
— Thus their heads wear this hilarious, hideous,
Awful falseness of set-smiling corpses.
— Thus their hands are plucking at each other;
Picking at the rope-knouts of their scourging;
Snatching after us who smote them, brother,
Pawing us who dealt them war and madness.

 
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About the poet
Wilfred Owen
 
By the same poet
Strange Meeting
Greater Love
Apologia pro Poemate Meo
The Show
Parable of the Old Men and the Young
Arms and the Boy
Anthem for Doomed Youth
The Send-off
Insensibility
Dulce et Decorum est
The Sentry
The Dead-Beat
Exposure
Spring Offensive
The Chances
S. I. W.
Futility
Smile, Smile, Smile
Conscious
A Terre
Wild with all Regrets
Disabled
The End
 
Related books
Wilfred Owen at amazon.com


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