Treasure Island

Wilfred Owen

(1893-1918 / Shropshire / England)

Disabled


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 maybe, 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 drought of jewelled hills
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 enquired 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.
Tonight 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?

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (9/9/2014 4:12:00 AM)

    Wilfred Owen the great poet's wonderful creation of this poem and its narration of the wounded or differently able soldier and his thoughts, losses, gains, the opinion of others, his own life that suffering through the troubles undergone and so much things. Great thoughts and wonderful imaginations which I think the poet had observed in such close vicinity of a solider who is also an ordinary heart having such feelings. Great it is! (Report) Reply

  • Nithya Raghavan (1/20/2010 8:01:00 AM)

    a poem about how a person loses all the popularity fast..and he sits on his wheelchair, when once upon a time he was willing to give every form of his existence to war...he is there, eaten away by the teeth of fate... (Report) Reply

  • Peter Keeble (9/4/2009 6:29:00 AM)

    Isn't this bordering on the selfpi$tyingly maudlin? I think it is saved from this by the stong moral purpose, which is brougt in more successfully and only right at the end of Dulce et Decorum est. Some stonger elements of the poem are the irony of liking the look of a bit of blood down his leg as a badge of honour when playing football (now he has no legs) and the probably double meaning of beig put to bed (grave?) (Report) Reply

  • Jane Moon (6/3/2009 1:47:00 PM)

    How sad this is, a sparkling young man who thoughtlessly went to war for the glamour, and it ruined his life - yet another tragedy of war, a life destroyed, one among so many. Truly the consequences are disastrous and war is hell. (Report) Reply

  • Lewis Bancroft (9/9/2007 2:27:00 PM)

    this poem is a poem frought with disapointment, the loss of a soldier, who with some distant sense of duty, went to war, not thinking of the consequences, and is reminiscent of so many soldiers who fought in the great war. god bless them (Report) Reply

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