Saturday, June 03, 2006

Wilfred Owen

The Parable of the Young Man and the Old

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned, both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake, and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretched forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold, caught in a thicket by its horns;
A ram, offer the Ram of Pride instead.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

Wilfred Owen

This is a day or two early for D-day but I wish to post this now as my reflection on The Father killed the son.

This poem was written in the first world war about the military establishment of England who would rather sacrifice their young men than back down. The story behind this poem has been written of in Regeneration by Pat Barker and made into a film of the same name. I highly recommend the movie. I had read the book previously but found the movie had more emotional impact. A Canadian book on this topic is Broken Ground by Jack Hodgkins.

I wrote a while ago about how Eva McCarthy lost her brother in WWII. He had been a stretcher-bearer in WWI and although older at the time of WWII, he volunteered as a chaplain's assistant in order to care for the young men who were fighting and be there for them. He died in Italy shortly before the end of the war.

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