Thursday, March 27, 2003

by Wilfred Owen


Happy are men who yet before they are killed
Can let their veins run cold.
Whom no compassion fleers
Or makes their feet
Sore on the alleys cobbled with their brothers.
The front line withers,
But they are troops who fade, not flowers
For poets’ tearful fooling:
Men, gaps for filling:
Losses, who might have fought
Longer; but no one bothers.


And some cease feeling
Even themselves or for themselves.
Dullness best solves
The tease and doubt of shelling,
And Chance’s strange arithmetic
Comes simpler than the reckoning of their shilling.
They keep no check on armies’ decimation.


Happy are these who lose imagination:
They have enough to carry with ammunition.
Their spirit drags no pack.
Their old wounds, save with cold, can not more ache.
Having seen all things red,
Their eyes are rid
Of the hurt of the colour of blood forever.
And terror’s first constriction over,
Their hearts remain small-drawn.
Their senses in some scorching cautery of battle
Now long since ironed,
Can laugh among the dying, unconcerned.


Happy the soldier home, with not a notion
How somewhere, every dawn, some men attack,
And many sighs are drained.
Happy the lad whose mind was never trained:
His days are worth forgetting more than not.
He sings along the march
Which we march taciturn, because of dusk,
The long, forlorn, relentless trend
From larger day to huger night.


We wise, who with a thought besmirch
Blood over all our soul,
How should we see our task
But through his blunt and lashless eyes?
Alive, he is not vital overmuch;
Dying, not mortal overmuch;
Nor sad, nor proud,
Nor curious at all.
He cannot tell
Old men’s placidity from his.


But cursed are dullards whom no cannon stuns,
That they should be as stones;
Wretched are they, and mean
With paucity that never was simplicity.
By choice they made themselves immune
To pity and whatever moans in man
Before the last sea and the hapless stars;
Whatever mourns when many leave these shores;
Whatever shares
The eternal reciprocity of tears.

I had a good day today. In times like these, though, it makes me feel guilty to be content with the way things are going in my immediate circle of existance. I think I shall indulge myself in a little joy tonight; I've earned it. Today, I bought a few copies of Grubstreet, the university student-run literary journal that published three of my poems. It felt so good to see my work in print (even if the stanza form of one of the poems was seriously screwed up. Sorry, Luke, but it was.)

And yesterday? I know I haven't mentioned this yet... I finally heard back from that other student journal. And they, too, published "Robbed"! That's they poem I posted here.

So, yeah. Needless to say I'm feeling pretty excited/proud at the moment. It's so nice to have that kind of validation that comes only from seeing your work in print!

I know. Just because a couple of my fellow students like my work doesn't mean I'm any good. But at least their opinions are something to bolter my confidence, intensify my drive. I feel that spark that burns within me whenever I write flaming all the more intensely tonight.

UPDATE: Tonight, I watched the Nelofar Pazira/Paul Jay documentary Return to Kandahar. Very powerful stuff. Full report tomorrow. I need to go to bed.

And I know that I recently promised to discuss this crap involving Paul Cellucci, but I don't have the energy anymore. I am tired of this shit. Cellucci was just as wrong in making his statements (or, I should say, the White House was just as wrong) as were Caroline Parrish and Natural Resources Minister Herb Dhaliwal. Not one of you is behaving like a diplomat. So shut up and cut the crap! Behaving like twelve year olds won't win the hearts or minds of any North American!

But before I wonder off into the darkness for the night, one final comment on this: Canada is a sovereign nation. We have the right to determine our own foreign policy, as does the United States. I'm sorry some Americans are disappointed about this fact, but there were many Canadians who were just as disappointed upon the United States' refusal to ratify the Kyoto Protocol (well, of course, I'm sure it was no skin off Ralph Klein's back!) and the International Criminal Court (don't get me started on that one!)

Anyway, I'm shutting up myself now before I make myself too agitated to sleep. In my absence, click right here and then right here for some links about the aforementioned diplomatic mess.

Listening to "Autotomy" by The Dears.

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