First World War Poetry Digital Archive

‘Deep under turfy grass . . .’

Deep under turfy grass and heavy clay   They laid her bruisèd body, and the child   Poor victims of a swift mischance were they,   Adown Death's trapdoor suddenly beguiled.   I, weeping not, as others, but heart-wild,   Affirmed to Heaven that even Love's fierce flame   Must fail beneath the chill of this cold shame. So I rebelled, scorning and mocking such   As had the ignorant callousness to wed   On altar steps long frozen by the touch   Of stretcher after stretcher of our dead.   Love's blindness is too terrible, I said;   I will go counsel men, and show what bin   The harvest of their homes is gathered in. But as I spoke, came many children nigh,   Hurrying lightly o'er the village green;   Methought too lightly, for they came to spy   Into their playmate's bed terrene.   They clustered round; some wondered what might mean   Rich-odoured flowers so whelmed in fetid earth;   While some Death's riddle guessed ere that of Birth. And there stood one Child with them, whose pale brows   Wore beauty like our mother Eve's; whom seeing,   I could not choose but undo all my vows,   And cry that it were well that human Being   And Birth and Death should be, just for the freeing   Of one such face from Chaos' murky womb,   For Hell's reprieve is worth not this one bloom.


“‘Deep under turfy grass . . .’,” by Owen, Wilfred (1893-1918). 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 April 21, 2024,

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