The End

Best known for the 5th to 8th lines in stanza one (the octet):

Shall Life renew these bodies? Of a truth

All death will he annul, all tears assuage?

Or fill these void veins full again with youth,

And wash with an immortal water, age?

When Susan Owen chose this poem to quote from for inscription on Wilfred's gravestone, it became:

Shall Life renew these bodies? Of a truth

All death will he annul

Shall Life renew these bodies? Of a truth All death will he annul

thus omitting the two vital question marks and distorting the poem's meaning.

Date between late 1916 and early 1918. Letter home February 1917 -

Leslie tells me that Miss Joergens considers my Sonnet on THE END the finest of the lot. Naturally, because it is, intentionally, in her style!

HIBBERD (OWEN THE POET)

"The sonnet may be read as a comment on war, but one could hardly call it a war poem. Its conclusions go back to Owen's loss of belief in immortality as he watched the Dunsden children, its imagery to the 'thrilling' military band and the stunning sunlight at Merignac…..

….He was as yet uneasy about using his own experience in verse, feeling the typically late-Romantic need to conceal it under symbols and large statements."


Copyright Kenneth Simcox 2004