First World War Poetry Digital Archive

‘Science has looked . . .’

Science has looked, and sees no life but this: Or, at the most 'tis hypothetical. 'Thou art as animals, as worms, as clay; Earth---thy small planet, of a thousand, one--- Shall slowly waste, unto an outburnt ash; And thou and all thy race, be blotted out, For in the dissolution of man's brain Himself dissolves, and passes into naught'... O careful Science, thou had'st all my zeal, But a Third Power smiles, and beckons me. She is a wanton of too light a name To hold the faith of most men in her heart. Poor Poesy! She hath no constancy... But yesterday she clung half- trustingly To calm religion. Where is she today? Clasping Cold Science with a grim embrace! No constancy! But comforts manifold, And therefore, lovely to a waif, like me! Speak to me, Poesy! Give me on this height The one true message of thy thousand oracles! 'Yea? cryest thou so hungry for some Light? Seek light no more! There is no Light as yet! The Light that lights the soul shall be the last Created thing; as that which lights the eye the first! These mountains are the breasts of Mother Earth, Nestle thou there, child; suck thy fill of joys. And strive no more to look beyond thy Mother's arms.' ---So? is it so? Then I will lie and rest. O mountains, there comes over me this hour A wondrous longing for my latest sleep. I long to drowse, and fall upon eternal sleep; I want to sleep, but not to dream, and not to wake; Pass hence, and yet behold no region more; Fade from this company of distracted men Where all are mad deluders, or else sick deluded... Now, Night, rise softly like a careful nurse: Lower the lights of day round thy sick child: For I would sleep ... Poor I, who know not what I am, nor whence, Would shake away this bitter case of flesh, Even though naught remain when it is gone. Would rid me of long deceiving blood; How know I but at this very hour My thoughts most high, most melancholy-grand, Be not the chance-distemper of my pulse, The doing of some small, intestine flaw! O death, before I pluck my brain away, Let me but sleep ... My heart stops---it is well ... O Light, which art but darkness, O cruel world ...; O Men ...; O my own Self ...; Farewell!


“‘Science has looked . . .’,” The Estate of Wilfred Owen. The Complete Poems and Fragments of Wilfred Owen edited by Jon Stallworthy first published by Chatto & Windus, 1983. Preliminaries, introductory, editorial matter, manuscripts and fragments omitted. via First World War Poetry Digital Archive, accessed May 24, 2024,

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