Marc Harris

A Neighbour to Wilfred Owen

At the pounding of the mortar,

the death-rattled breath breaches our wall.

Entrenched in sleep,

the young poet recoils in darkness.

And he, shocked shell of a man,

broken by the rifles' rattle,

is penned in by dreams,

herded with the cattle.

And blinded by the blackened snow,

bugled to the slaughter,

masked, unmasked;

choked by a foul green hell,


amidst 'choirs of wailing shells'*.

[*from Wilfred Owen's 'Anthem for Doomed Youth']

[N.B. Wilfred Owen was probaly the most famous poet of the First World War.  He was tragically killed just as the war was coming to an end. This poem was written as a 'dream poem,'  in which I dreamt I lived next door to Wilfred Owen. In fact, the house where Owen once lived was only yards from an old flat of mine. A friend used to rent a room next to Mahim (the name of Owen's old home). My friend's bedroom was adjacent to the wall which separated his, and what was Owen's bedroom. Mahim, is number 69 Monkmoor Road, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, United Kingdom.]

Marc Harris © 2007