First World War Poetry Digital Archive

The Next War

THE NEXT WAR by WILFRED OWEN *War's a joke for me and you, While we know such dreams are true. SIEGFRIED SASSOON* Out there, we walked, quite friendly up to Death,--- Sat down and ate beside him, cool and bland,--- Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand. We've sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,--- Our eyes wept, but our courage didn't writhe. He's spat at us with bullets, and he's coughed Shrapnel. We chorused if he sang aloft, We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe. Oh, Death was never enemy of ours! We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum. No soldier's paid to kick against His powers. We laughed,---knowing that better men would come, And greater wars: when every fighter brags He fights on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.


“The Next War,” 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 July 6, 2022,

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