Originally Posted by Bookpossum
I have also been considering why I find the poems of Wilfred Owen more moving than those of Siegfried Sassoon. I think it is a combination of knowing that he did not survive, and also the use of his poems in Benjamin Britten's "War Requiem". This is an incredibly powerful work written in the 1960s for the new Coventry Cathedral, combining some of the poems of Owen with words from the requiem mass.
I think all these poems should be required reading for all politicians itching to send more of their citizens off to war.
I share your feelings about the war poetry of Owen. Personally, I think that Owen's poetry is generally more moving because his very real anger is modulated by a sense of deep pity. Contrast the treatment of the disabled soldier.
Does It Matter?
Does it matter?-losing your legs?
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.
Does it matter?-losing you sight?
There’s such splendid work for the blind;
And people will always be kind,
As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light.
Do they matter-those dreams in the pit?
You can drink and forget and be gald,
And people won't say that you’re mad;
For they know that you've fought for your country,
And no one will worry a bit.
And here's Owen's approach to a similar subject in the final two verses of "Disabled"
Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then enquired about his soul.
Now, he will spend a few sick years in institutes,
And do what things the rules consider wise,
And take whatever pity they may dole.
Tonight he noticed how the women's eyes
Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
How cold and late it is! Why don't they come
And put him into bed? Why don't they come?
It was a meeting with Sassoon when both were convalescing that inspired Owen to write most of his greatest war poetry. They became close friends but Owen was killed by a sniper very near the end of the war.