Not About Heroes

I originally shared this as an Instagram post on Armistice Day, this year being the centenary of the end of the First World War. It's only brief but I thought it might be useful to share it here too.



This is my favourite play. Ever since  I was 17, I've kept a copy with me. It tells the story of the friendship between Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon while they were both patients at Craiglockhart War Hospital in 1917. It's so beautifully written and weaves in both their poetry and narrative styles, all the while exploring this remarkable bond of kinship and love that was forged between two of our most prolific WW1 poets. The title, Not About Heroes, is taken from the preface Wilfred Owen wrote for his own collection of poems:

"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, might, majesty, dominion, or power, except War. Above all I am not concerned with Poetry. My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity."

I thought it was rather fitting to share this today on the hundredth anniversary of The Armistice and the hundredth anniversary of Owen's death, who was tragically killed seven days before the war ended.

If you get a moment, do read it. It's utterly affecting and so skillfully put together. It haunts me. I mean that in every positive sense of the word, it hums and lingers in my bones. It has changed my relationship with our history, with poetry and, well, it's the culprit behind a lifelong penchant for pararhyme.

All these years and I could never quite shake this play. I doubt I ever shall.



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