To Wilfred | Edward Ashworth

Beloved Poet; the war has long ended, old pal.
How do you like the state of the world at peace? Does it suit your rhyme?
Is it improved by your message? Does it boost the troops’ morale?
Does it sing in rhythm with Heaven’s chime?

(Or is it Heaven..?) It has to be, old friend; Hell was on earth.
(Though Satan was not so cruel as to drive far from hearth
Innocent men, rather than undeserving sinners.)

Poet, I would pity the Living. For, after all,
War only ever ends for those it forced to fall.
They who live know that it shall start again
but those who sleep ignore they died in vain.

(This far-flung echo…) Do you recognise these lines?
Yours, my friend. They read them sometimes,
When they remember your words were true.
Then they come home and talk of waging war anew.

You care not for statues built to your glory,
Nor for crowds gathered to hear your poetry.
But only for what could have been;
Another sky, ever serene,
Under which fathers do not bury their sons.

But nothing may rouse you now.
Nor toll of peace, nor anger of guns.
Though you now lie under better skies,
You cannot see them, nor ever will.

Writer’s Commentary

Wilfred Owen is a very important figure in my life; whereas I used to be exclusively interested in the French side of History, getting an interest in him, his life and his work made me switch to the British side and got me started in attempting to write poetry.

‘To Wilfred’ was written after contemplating the emptiness of a World War I cemetery as opposed to the liveliness of its occupants before the war happened. I often wonder, like many do, what would the dead think upon seeing the world as it is now, or if they were conscious of what happened to them. It often is a hard blow to a WWI historian to see the entire life, art, humour, and character of a soldier they researched simply summed up by a white headstone and their death-date engraved upon it.

Edward Ashworth was born in Corsica but gained an interest in British history & culture after teaching himself English.

He has been awarded several prizes by the French Ministry of Education and the French National Veteran Office for his work on the First and Second World War.

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