Wilfred Owen

(1893-1918 / Shropshire / England)

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Asleep


Under his helmet, up against his pack,
After so many days of work and waking,
Sleep took him by the brow and laid him back.

There, in the happy no-time of his sleeping,
Death took him by the heart. There heaved a quaking
Of the aborted life within him leaping,
Then chest and sleepy arms once more fell slack.

And soon the slow, stray blood came creeping
From the intruding lead, like ants on track.

Whether his deeper sleep lie shaded by the shaking
Of great wings, and the thoughts that hung the stars,
High-pillowed on calm pillows of God's making,
Above these clouds, these rains, these sleets of lead,
And these winds' scimitars,
-Or whether yet his thin and sodden head
Confuses more and more with the low mould,
His hair being one with the grey grass
Of finished fields, and wire-scrags rusty-old,
Who knows? Who hopes? Who troubles? Let it pass!
He sleeps. He sleeps less tremulous, less cold,
Than we who wake, and waking say Alas!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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Read poems about / on: sleep, work, happy, hair, death, god, time, heart, life, rain, wind, star, hope

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  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (9/22/2013 11:01:00 AM)

    So many of such innocent ones
    Laid their heads on snow and grass
    Marking their fall by streaks of red
    In every war that extracted its toll in human blood (Report) Reply

  • Dennis Hunter (9/9/2013 4:06:00 PM)

    Now nothing fret regarding earnings. Our Company wants home users for his or her monetary reportings. I created $3576 this Month already...Here is that the website for additional data.]]] WW­W.B­AR­17.?­O? (Report) Reply

  • Manohar Bhatia (9/9/2013 9:00:00 AM)

    This is an excellent poem on sleep & work. Man slogs throughout his life to maintain his family, parents and others dfependent on him.At the end of the day, he becomes dog tired and sleeps under his helmet, just as a shouldier.Sometimes, the man or the military man may be dead, exhausting his time on this earth.
    Manohar Bhatia. (Report) Reply

  • Ramesh T A (9/9/2011 3:05:00 AM)

    Life of hard working men ends so finally which is well said by Wilfred Owen in a simple way! He works ever and sleeps finally! But others never sleep and one day wake to see to say alas for his loss! This is the world life we should know! Wonderful poem! (Report) Reply

  • Pranab K Chakraborty (9/9/2011 2:04:00 AM)

    He sleeps. He sleeps less tremulous, less cold,
    Than we who wake, and waking say Alas! .....

    MUCH FOR OUR HELPLESSNESS. Great work. (Report) Reply

  • Michael Harmon (9/9/2009 1:17:00 PM)

    Wilfred Owen, along with Siegfried Sassoon and Rupert Brooke, is one of the great poetic chroniclers of WW1. His work (e.g. with slant rhymes, etc) was innovative, and worthy of study today. His death, and Keats', at a tragically early age, I consider to be among the greatest losses English poetry has ever suffered. (Report) Reply

  • Kevin Straw (9/9/2009 5:43:00 AM)

    I am not sure how the blood coming from the soldier's wound is like 'ants on track'. Could the last section have been tightened up a little? It seems a bit foggy at times. (Report) Reply

  • Cler Abeli (3/31/2009 4:56:00 AM)

    this is such a beutifull poem, im studying wilfred owens poems at school and this is just great (Report) Reply

  • Janet Hedger (9/9/2008 6:41:00 AM)

    As a poet myself and one who writes poems of conflict through my involvement with Forces poetry - I admire and respect Wilfred Owen. So glad this poem is on site today - as it is one of my favourite pieces of his work - One can feel the life, shortened brutally by conflict, ebbing away with Owens words, into permanent sleep.
    Jan (Report) Reply

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