'Apologia Pro Poemate Meo' by Wilfred Owen

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I, too, saw God through mud--
The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled.
War brought more glory to their eyes than blood,
And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.

Merry it was to laugh there--
Where death becomes absurd and life absurder.
For power was on us as we slashed bones bare
Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder.

I, too, have dropped off fear--
Behind the barrage, dead as my platoon,
And sailed my spirit surging, light and clear,
Past the entanglement where hopes lie strewn;

And witnessed exhultation--
Faces that used to curse me, scowl for scowl,
Shine and lift up with passion of oblation,
Seraphic for an hour, though they were foul.

I have made fellowships--
Untold of happy lovers in old song.
For love is not the binding of fair lips
With the soft silk of eyes that look and long.

By joy, whose ribbon slips,--
But wound with war's hard wire whose stakes are strong;
Bound with the bandage of the arm that drips;
Knit in the welding of the rifle-thong.

I have perceived much beauty
In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight;
Heard music in the silentness of duty;
Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.

Nevertheless, except you share
With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell,
Whose world is but a trembling of a flare
And heaven but a highway for a shell,

You shall not hear their mirth:
You shall not come to think them well content
By any jest of mine. These men are worth
Your tears: You are not worth their merriment.

Editor 1 Interpretation


Wilfred Owen is one of the most celebrated war poets of the twentieth century. He is known for his poems that capture the horrors and realities of the First World War. One of his most famous poems is Apologia pro Poemate Meo. This poem was written in 1917 and was published posthumously in 1920 in the collection Poems of Wilfred Owen. The poem is a reflection on the purpose of poetry and the role of the poet in society. This literary criticism and interpretation will explore the themes, imagery, and language used in the poem to understand the message that Owen was trying to convey.


The main theme in Apologia pro Poemate Meo is the purpose of poetry. Owen starts the poem by addressing the reader and asking them whether they would die for their country. He then goes on to say that he would die for his poems. This sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is a defense of his poetry and its importance.

Owen argues that poetry is not just a form of entertainment, but it has a purpose. He says that poetry can give people hope, comfort, and inspiration. In times of war, poetry can be a way for soldiers to express their feelings and emotions. It can also be a way for people back home to understand the realities of war.

Another theme in the poem is the role of the poet in society. Owen argues that the poet has a responsibility to tell the truth and to use their art to make a difference. He says that the poet should not be concerned with fame or fortune but should write for the sake of their conscience.


Owen uses vivid imagery in Apologia pro Poemate Meo to convey the horrors of war. He describes the soldiers as "blood-shod" and "deaf to the sound of the guns." This image emphasizes the physical and emotional toll that war takes on the soldiers.

Owen also uses religious imagery in the poem. He compares the soldiers to Christ, saying that they are "bowed to the slaughter" like "sheep to the fold." This image highlights the sacrificial nature of war and the idea that soldiers are giving their lives for a greater cause.


One of the most striking aspects of the language in Apologia pro Poemate Meo is the use of repetition. Owen repeats the phrase "I am the enemy you killed, my friend" throughout the poem. This repetition serves to emphasize the futility of war and the fact that soldiers on both sides are human beings.

Owen also uses alliteration in the poem to create a sense of rhythm and musicality. For example, he writes "But the past is just the same-and War's a bloody game" which creates a sense of urgency and intensity.


Apologia pro Poemate Meo is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that challenges the reader to think about the purpose of poetry and the role of the poet in society. Owen argues that poetry can be a force for good in the world and that the poet has a responsibility to use their art to make a difference.

The imagery in the poem is particularly effective in conveying the horrors of war. Owen's use of religious imagery emphasizes the sacrificial nature of war and the fact that soldiers are giving their lives for a greater cause. The use of repetition and alliteration also adds to the emotional impact of the poem.

Overall, Apologia pro Poemate Meo is a testament to the power of poetry and the importance of using art to make a difference in the world. Owen's message is as relevant today as it was when he wrote the poem over a century ago.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation


Wilfred Owen is a renowned poet who is known for his war poetry. His poem, Apologia Pro Poemate Meo, is a classic piece of literature that has been studied and analyzed by scholars and poetry enthusiasts alike. In this poem, Owen defends his decision to write about war and the atrocities that soldiers face during combat. This analysis will delve into the themes, structure, and literary devices used in Apologia Pro Poemate Meo.


The main theme of Apologia Pro Poemate Meo is the justification of writing about war. Owen argues that it is his duty as a poet to write about the horrors of war and to bring attention to the suffering of soldiers. He believes that it is important for people to understand the reality of war and the impact it has on those who fight in it. Owen also touches on the theme of sacrifice. He acknowledges that soldiers make great sacrifices when they go to war, and he believes that it is his duty to honor their sacrifice by writing about their experiences.


Apologia Pro Poemate Meo is a sonnet, which is a fourteen-line poem with a specific rhyme scheme. The poem is divided into two parts, with the first eight lines presenting the problem and the last six lines providing the solution. The rhyme scheme of the poem is ABAB CDCD EFEF GG, which is typical of a Shakespearean sonnet. The use of a sonnet structure adds to the formality of the poem and gives it a sense of importance.

Literary Devices

Owen uses several literary devices in Apologia Pro Poemate Meo to convey his message. One of the most prominent devices is imagery. Owen uses vivid descriptions of war to create a sense of horror and despair. For example, he writes, "I too saw God through mud," which is a powerful image of the degradation and suffering that soldiers face in war. Owen also uses repetition to emphasize his point. He repeats the phrase "my subject is war" several times throughout the poem to drive home the importance of his message.

Another literary device that Owen uses is allusion. He references the Bible in the line, "I too have dropped off Fear - behind the barrage," which alludes to the story of Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane. This reference adds a religious element to the poem and emphasizes the sacrifice that soldiers make when they go to war.

Owen also uses irony in Apologia Pro Poemate Meo. He writes, "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity," which is an ironic statement because war is not typically associated with pity or compassion. Owen uses this irony to highlight the contrast between the reality of war and the romanticized version of war that is often portrayed in literature.


Apologia Pro Poemate Meo is a powerful poem that defends the importance of writing about war. Owen uses vivid imagery, repetition, allusion, and irony to convey his message. The sonnet structure adds to the formality of the poem and gives it a sense of importance. The themes of sacrifice and the justification of writing about war are central to the poem. Overall, Apologia Pro Poemate Meo is a classic piece of literature that continues to resonate with readers today.

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