The Last Laugh

By Wilfred Owen 1893–1918 Wilfred Owen
‘O Jesus Christ! I’m hit,’ he said; and died.

Whether he vainly cursed or prayed indeed,
                 The Bullets chirped—In vain, vain, vain!

                 Machine-guns chuckled—Tut-tut! Tut-tut!

                 And the Big Gun guffawed.

Another sighed,—‘O Mother,—mother,—Dad!’
Then smiled at nothing, childlike, being dead.

                 And the lofty Shrapnel-cloud

                 Leisurely gestured,—Fool!
            
                 And the splinters spat, and tittered.

‘My Love!’ one moaned. Love-languid seemed his mood,

Till slowly lowered, his whole face kissed the mud.

                 And the Bayonets’ long teeth grinned;
                 Rabbles of Shells hooted and groaned;
                 And the Gas hissed.

NOTES: POL Participants: several changes to punctuation have been changed, and the line "And the falling splinters tittered" was changed to "And the splinters spat, and tittered", in June 2014.

Source: The Poems of Wilfred Owen, edited by Jon Stallworthy (W. W. Norton and Company, Inc., 1986)

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Poet Wilfred Owen 1893–1918

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects War & Conflict, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries, Death

 Wilfred  Owen

Biography

Wilfred Owen, who wrote some of the best British poetry on World War I, composed nearly all of his poems in slightly over a year, from August 1917 to September 1918. In November 1918 he was killed in action at the age of twenty-five, one week before the Armistice. Only five poems were published in his lifetime—three in the Nation and two that appeared anonymously in the Hydra, a journal he edited in 1917 when he was a patient at . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT War & Conflict, Living, Sorrow & Grieving, Social Commentaries, Death

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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