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War Songs of Wilfred Owen

for voice and piano

Anthem for Doomed Youth

 

Nothing is so beautiful as spring—
When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;
Thrush's eggs look little low heavens, and thrush
Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring
The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;
The glassy peartree leaves and blooms, they brush
The descending blue; that blue is all in a rush
With richness; the racing lambs too have fair their fling.


What is all this juice and all this joy?
A strain of the earth's sweet being in the beginning
In Eden garden.—Have, get, before it cloy,
Before it cloud, Christ, lord, and sour with sinning,
Innocent mind and Mayday in girl and boy,
Most, O maid's child, thy choice and worthy the winning.

 

II. fragment 1 

 

Repeat that, repeat,

Cuckoo, bird, and open ear wells, heart-springs, delightfully sweet,

With a ballad, with a ballad, a rebound

Off trundled timber and scoops of the hillside ground, hollow hollow hollow ground:

The whole landscape flushes on a sudden at a sound.

 

III. fragment 2

 

Strike, churl; hurl, cheerless wind, then; heltering hail

May's beauty massacre and wispèd wild clouds grow

Out on the giant air; tell Summer No,

Bid joy back, have at the harvest, keep Hope pale.

 

IV. fragment L

 

The furl of fresh-leaved dogrose down
His cheeks the forth-and-flaunting sun
Had swarthed about with lion-brown
Before the Spring was done.


His locks like all a ravel-rope's-end,
With hempen strands in spray—
Fallow, foam-fallow, hanks—fall'n off their ranks,
Swung down at a disarray.


Or like a juicy and jostling shock
Of bluebells sheaved in May
Or wind-long fleeces on the flock
A day off shearing day.


Then over his turnèd temples—here—
Was a rose, or, failing that,
Rough-Robin or five-lipped campion clear
For a beauty-bow to his hat,
And the sunlight sidled, like dewdrops, like dandled diamonds
Through the sieve of the straw of the plait.

 

V. fragment 3: To his Watch.

 

Mortal my mate, bearing my rock-a-heart
Warm beat with cold beat company, shall I
Earlier or you fail at our force, and lie
The ruins of, rifled, once a world of art?
The telling time our task is; time's some part,
Not all, but we were framed to fail and die—
One spell and well that one. There, ah thereby
Is comfort's carol of all or woe's worst smart.


Field-flown the departed day no morning brings
Saying 'This was yours' with her, but new one, worse.
And then that last and shortest…

 

VI. fragment 4: Summa. Hymn.

 

The best ideal is the true

And other truth is none.

All glory be ascribèd to

The holy Three in One.

 

VII. fragment 5

 

'The child is father to the man.'

How can he be? The words are wild.

Suck any sense from that who can:

'The child is father to the man.'

No; what the poet did write ran,

'The man is father to the child.'

'The child is father to the man!'

How can he be? The words are wild.

 

VIII. Pied Beauty.

 

Glory be to God for dappled things—
For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim:
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches' wings;
Landscape plotted and pieced—fold, fallow, and plough;
And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim.


All things counter, original, spare, strange;
Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
Praise him.

 

IX. fragment 6

 

The sea took pity: it interposed with doom:

'I have tall daughters dear that heed my hand:

Let Winter wed one, sow them in her womb,

And she shall child them on the New-world strand.’

 

X. fragment 7: On a piece of music.

 

How all 's to one thing wrought!

XI. God's Grandeur.

 

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.


And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

 

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