Wednesday, October 9, 2013

WWI Transhumanist Poem

I first encountered Wilfred Owen in a high school anthology, but as a 19 year old I read his collected poems. They were required for my History of Civilization class, the Pen and the Sword, taught by Alan Keele and Wilford Griggs at Brigham Young University. It was one of the later books we read that semester, but I started reading it early, just because it looked interesting to me. I'm glad I did, because in some ways it introduced my to poetry. I really worked at understanding what his poems were saying. Wilfred Owen's poetry really opened me up to the pity of war. That was his intent, and I have never viewed war the same, since. I struggle to see any glory in war, and see pain and sorrow much more clearly. Thank you Wilfred Owen.

I've picked up his poems several times over the years. This most recent time as I think about my relationship with God and religion, but you will have to wait to see if I can frame those thoughts for posting. In browsing his poems, I came across one I hadn't noticed before, in praise of the Transhumanist soldiers who fight against Death. Here it is.

The Next War

War's a joke for me and you,
While we know such dreams are true.
                               Siegfried Sassoon

Out there, we've walked quite friendly up to Death;
  Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,--
  Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We've sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,--
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn't writhe.
  He's spat at us with bullets and he's coughed
  Shrapnel. We chorussed when he sang aloft;
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.

Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
  We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier's paid to kick against his powers.
  We laughed, knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars; when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death--for lives; not men--for flags.

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