All the doomed youth

After Wilfred Owen

A widow’s breast leaked whey
her curtains were drawn it was Mid-May
and even the hardened didn’t know what to say
but they dragged her away and her babe of wet clay.
When the end of war begins
Men came home in different skins
And Churches offered God and hymns
to men with medals hung deep in their limbs
And All the doomed youth congregate like field mice
some of them shaking like Beckett in lice
buy the lie they will sell it twice
after fire should not be ice.
And all the doomed youth sit faceless on benches
no one touched them but threepence wenches.
Look at David’s face, skin like yellow sap,
his whistling nose with a two-inch gap
For a widow, the Lords grace –
a daughter in gauze without a face,
a two-minute pause in borrowed lace
skin peeling like Kitchener pointing at his race.
Play me the anthem one more time
spray birds out from the eleventh chime,
let all the doomed youth walk wounded in rhyme
falling further from sun as nameless graves climb.

black chess chess pieces close up

Photo by George Becker on

3 Responses to “All the doomed youth”

  1. I see you have embraced some of Owen’s rhyme. I spent an evening reading his poems. He was a far better poet than Sassoon.

    • I think Owen combined the unlawful nature of war with the laws of language yet to show it like an open wound

      • Owen really was a departure from the cliched rhyme. One of his poems is written in tercets. The brevity works extremely well. I also like that even then he was willing to experiment with line placement. Huge potential for even more, if he had lived.

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