Poet/Literary Experts - HELP! - Find me a Poem?

I have been asked at work to put together a small page for our intranet site for [U.S.] Veterans’ Day. They JUST asked me and would like to have it posted today (Election Day) connecting the remembrance of those who fought for US freedoms with a reminder/encouragement for people to vote.

Anyway, I would love to include a poem I read recently in an old copy of one of the “Six Centuries of Poetry” anthologies I have at home and am totally blanking on title and author. I recall that it was one of the last poets in the anthology and that he had a very short life (about 25 yrs old when he died in the early 20th century–just after WWI?). The poem is about a wounded/recovering soldier who is facing death and/or a life of handicap and I believe there are references to the dawn/day break. It was really touching. Ring any bells with anyone?

dont know the one you were referring to in the OP, but how about the Yeats poem quoted at JFK’s funeral

read it here at

Probably Wilfrid Owen, although a large number of impressive poets got chopped off early in WWI.

His most famous anti-war poem is “Dulce et Decorum Est,” which is about the death of a comrade in a gas attack, but I remember the one you’re talking about…the guy’s in a wheelchair, right, no legs anymore, and in the final lines he’s waiting for someone to come and push him inside, as he’s getting cold. You get a real sinking feeling in the gut when you hit that.

If you can wait till I get home tonight, I’ll look it up in my PENGUIN BOOK OF WORLD WAR I POETRY.

or even better, By yeats again…

An Irish Airman forsee’s his Death.


WILFRED Owen, Sorry for the misspelling.

Here’s a couple of his poems online…not the wheelchair one, but several beauties, one of which may be the one you’re thinking of.

According to Paul Fussell, British WWI poets were simply crazy about sunrises and sunsets as metaphors, and stuck them willy-nilly into most of their poems.


yeah? well, Yeats could beat Owen up! with one hand behind his back!

That’s interesting…I was just coming back in here to see if YOU’D posted another goddamn Yeats poem, and to give you such a SMECK if you had.

She’s lookin’ for a DEAD poet, man! One whose fucking SPLEEN was spread hither and yon all over Passchendaele by a great whacking Boche artillery shell! One who can bring a tear to the steely blue eye because he’s felt the German bayonets ripping into his liver, and the stench of the chlorine gas in his lungs!

Not Mister-William-Gyres-and-Moon-Phases-Butler-Yeats!

But I got to agree with you…from the photos I’ve seen of Little Wilfred, I’ll bet Emily-fuckin-DICKINSON could take him in a fair fight.

Sounds like Wilfred Owen to me, too…sorry, most of my books are in storage in the States, so I can’t help much. Although, for my money, among WWI poets, you can’t beat Siegfried Sassoon. I dunno, I just got one on them dead poet crushes on him I guess.

Oh, and Ike, don’t tease Twisty about Yeats! :wink:

Well, you could also have John McRae’s In Flanders Field

Rupert Brooke

Issac Rosenberg

Alan Seeger
Alan Seeger
or Edward Thomas

All fine ww1 poets.
and yes, Dickenson could probably kick most other poets asses.

The poem is called “Disabled”, but the OP could also be a description of “Conscious” or, more likely, “Futility”.

Of course, a US poet might be more appropriate for a US veterans’ site’s encouragement to vote in a US election. Just a thought.

Could very well be Siegfried Sassoon (no relation to Vidal)http://www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/8103/

Not to worry, tater…I consider Yeats the greatest English-language poet of the 20th century.

I can’t resist tweaking him occasionally, though…remember that great line from one of Ezra Pound’s letters, after he had visited Yeats and listened to him expound his theories about the phases of the moon?

“Old Boy a bit Dotty over Moon.”

Of course you appreciate Yeats, Ike, it’s just that I fear our dear Twisty has a bit of a Yeats fetish. It’s adorable, really.

DOH! I had thought it was an American poet but…color me wrong on that one. (If I’d have remembered the line about kilts, I guess I wouldn’t have made that mistake.)

Owen Wilfred’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est” (Yay to Ukulele Ike!) seemed the closest to what I was remembering. But then, the marvelous TomH named it–I knew it the minute I read it. It was and is Owen Wilfred’s “Disabled.”

So thanks to all who offered suggestions and especially Ukulele Ike & TomH for the “final answer.”

Thanks to EVERYONE who tried to help solve my mystery (for my Swiss cheese like memory) – Anyway, Don’tcha just love literary exchanges. :slight_smile:
by Owen Wilfred (1893 - 1918)

He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
Voices of play and pleasure after day,
Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

About this time Town used to swing so gay
When glow-lamps budded in the light blue trees,
And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,
In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
Now he will never feel again how slim
Girls’ waists are, or how warm their subtle hands;
All of them touch him like some queer disease.

There was an artist silly for his face,
For it was younger than his youth, last year.
Now, he is old; his back will never brace;
He’s lost his colour very far from here,
Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race
And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.

One time he liked a blood-smear down his leg,
After the matches, carried shoulder-high.
It was after football, when he’d drunk a peg,
He thought he’d better join. - He wonders why.
Someone had said he’d look a god in kilts,
That’s why; and may be, too, to please his Meg;
Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts
He asked to join. He didn’t have to beg;
Smiling they wrote his lie; aged nineteen years.
Germans he scarcely thought of; all their guilt,
And Austria’s, did not move him. And no fears
Of Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hilts
For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
Thanked him; and then inquired 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.
To-night 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?

[p.s. I had already considered “In Flander’s Field,” which was a good guess, and I might use it too.]

Glad to be of help, Peta. It was worth all the effort to find out about TwistofFate’s Yeats fetish.

And now, a clerihew in honor of our pal, Twisty…
William Butler Yeats
Enjoyed hopping freights.
A railroad cop knocked him into the mire, and
He was forced to identify himself as the greatest poet in all of Ireland.

And another!
William Butler Yeats
Lived with three roommates.
He’d get angrier than an alligator
When they ate his leftover pizza out of the refrigerator.

It’s Wilfred Owen, not Owen Wilfred. And if you like war poetry, I will definitely second or third the suggestion of Siegfried Sassoon. He was definitely one of the best.

And another!
William Butler Yeats
Packed all his belongings into crates.
He was moving to Toledo
But when he stayed overnight at the Youngstown Ramada and decided to go swimming he couldn’t remember where he packed his Speedo.

Ahhhh, Isaac Rosenberg was better. Try his “Break of Day in the Trenches,” and “Dead Man’s Dump.”

…and another!
William Butler Yeats
Could make excellent chocolate phosphates.
Although his automatic-writing wife could at times be shrewish
She agreed that some of the best British War Poets were Jewish.

Whoops! Thanks for the catch. I kept looking at the search results for him (Owen <comma> Wilfred), and I guess goofed.