‘O Jesus Christ! I’m hit,’ he said; and died.

Whether he vainly cursed or prayed indeed,
                 The Bullets chirped—In vain, vain, vain!

                 Machine-guns chuckled—Tut-tut! Tut-tut!

                 And the Big Gun guffawed.

Another sighed,—‘O Mother,—mother,—Dad!’
Then smiled at nothing, childlike, being dead.

                 And the lofty Shrapnel-cloud

                 Leisurely gestured,—Fool!
            
                 And the splinters spat, and tittered.

‘My Love!’ one moaned. Love-languid seemed his mood,

Till slowly lowered, his whole face kissed the mud.

                 And the Bayonets’ long teeth grinned;
                 Rabbles of Shells hooted and groaned;
                 And the Gas hissed.

Notes:
POL Participants: several changes to punctuation have been changed, and the line "And the falling splinters tittered" was changed to "And the splinters spat, and tittered", in June 2014.
  • Source: The Poems of Wilfred Owen, edited by Jon Stallworthy (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1986)

Poet Bio

What People are Saying

"I learned that no matter how many times I do it, I will still be nervous when I speak in public. I also learned that it is possible to experience the same poem many times in a row and still feel like I am discovering something new about myself through the words of the writer."
Madeleine Schroeder
2017 OH POL Champion