A Palinode - Poem by Wilfred Owen
Some little while ago, I had a mood
When what we know as 'Nature' seemed to me
So sympathetic, ample, sweet, and good
That I preferred it to Society.
Not for a season, be it understood,
But altogether and perpetually.
As far as feeling went, I thought I could
Be quit of men, live independently.
For men and minds, heart-humours and heart's-tease
Disturbed without exciting: whereas woods,
The seasonal changes, and the chanting seas
Were both soul-rousing and sense-lulling. Moods,
Such moods prolonged, became a mania.
I found the stark stretch of a bleak-blown moor
Least barren of all places. Mere extranca
Seemed populace and town: things to ignore.
But if the sovereign sun I might behold
With condescension coming down benign,
And blessing all the field and air with gold,
Then the contentment of the world was mine.
In secret deserts where the night was nude
And each excited star grew ardent-eyed,
I tasted more than this life's plenitude,
And far as farthest stars perceive, I spied.
Once, when the whiteness of the spectral moon
Had terrorized the creatures of the wold,
When that long staring of the glazed-eyed
Had stupefied the land and made it cold,
I fell seduced into a madness; for,
Forgetting in that night the life of days,
I said I had no need of fellows more,
I madly hated men and all their ways.
I hated, feeling hated; I supposed
That others did not need me any more.
The book of human knowledge I then closed;
Passion, art, science? Trifles to ignore.
But in my error, men ignored not me,
And did not let me in my moonbeams bask.
And I took antidotes; though what they be
Unless yourself be poisoned, do not ask.
For I am overdosed. The City now
Holds all my passion; these my soul most feels:
Crowds surging; racket of traffic; market row;
Bridges, sonorous under rapid wheels;
Pacific lamentations of a bell;
The smoking of the old men at their doors;
All attitudes of children; the farewell
And casting-off of ships for far-off shores.
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