Preface to Poems by Wilfred Owen
The following preface by Wilfred Owen was printed at the beginning of his posthumously collected Poems, first published in 1920.
This book is not about heroes. English Poetry is not yet fit to speak of them. Nor is it about deeds or lands, nor anything about glory, honour, dominion or power,
Above all, this book is not concerned with Poetry.
The subject of it is War, and the pity of War.
The Poetry is in the pity.
Yet these elegies are not to this generation,
This is in no sense consolatory.
They may be to the next.
All the poet can do to-day is to warn.
That is why the true Poets must be truthful.
If I thought the letter of this book would last,
I might have used proper names; but if the spirit of it survives Prussia,—my ambition and those names will be content; for they will have achieved themselves fresher fields than Flanders.
Note.—This Preface was found, in an unfinished condition, among Wilfred Owen's papers.