Questions for Reflection: “The Next War” by Wilfred Owen
War's a joke for me and you,
Wile we know such dreams are true.
Out there, we've walked quite friendly up to Death,-
Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,-
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We've sniffed the green thick odor 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 when 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 each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.
1. Why does Sassoon’s name appear at the end of the first stanza? How do the preceding lines reflect Sassoon’s thinking?
2. What relationship does a soldier have to “death” as personified in “The Next War?” How does a warrior interact with death?
3. According to Owen, why do people fight?