British poet and soldier, Wilfred Owen is famous for his war poetry undoubtably evoked by his service in the First World War. Britten’s War Requiem (1962) may be considered an homage to the poet, as Lt. Wilfred Owen was famously killed in action on November 4th, 1918, just one week before the Armistice that declared the end of the war. His pre-war poetry is often overlooked, but is particularly poignant in showing his aversion to conventional (in this case orthodox) religion.
Between the brown hands of a server-lad
The silver cross was offered to be kissed.
The men came up, lugubrious, but not sad,
And knelt reluctantly, half-prejudiced.
(And kissing, kissed the emblem of a creed.)
Then mourning women knelt; meek mouths they had,
(And kissed the Body of the Christ indeed.)
Young children came, with eager lips and glad.
(They kissed a silver doll, immensely bright.)
Then I, too, knelt before that acolyte.
Above the crucifix I bent my head:
The Christ was thin, and cold, and very dead:
And yet I bowed, yea, kissed – my lips did cling.
(I kissed the warm live hand that held the thing.)