Wilfred Owen is the best known of the First World War poets, and this poem - together with Dulce et Decorum est - are particularly well known. Wilfred first joined battle in France at the very beginning of 1917 and during his war he was injured and suffered shell-shock (meeting the poet Siefried Sassoon - who encouraged him to continue writing his poetry - while recovering in hospital in Edinburgh). He went back to the front in September 1918 and was killed on 4th November 1918. Tragically, news of his death reached his parents as they heard the church bells ring out for the Armistice, on 11th November, one week later.
"What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.
What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds."