Peter Blair reading Wilfred Owen’s Futility

WWI postcard by Edith Cavell, artist signed T. Corbella.

WWI postcard by Edith Cavell, artist signed T. Corbella.

When I was in college I spent much of my free time playing with ways that poetry was beginning to intersect with the new digital world. Back in 1998 I recorded my good friend and thespian Peter Blair reading Wilfred Owen’s heart-rending poem, Futility. Here’s that reading:

Futility
by Wilfred Owen

Move him into the sun —
Gently its touch awoke him once,
At home, whispering of fields unsown.
Always it woke him, even in France,
Until this morning and this snow.
If anything might rouse him now
The kind old sun will know.

Think how it wakes the seeds —
Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.
Are limbs so dear-achieved, are sides
Full-nerved, — still warm, — too hard to stir?
Was it for this the clay grew tall?
— O what made fatuous sunbeams toil
To break earth's sleep at all?

Born on March 18, 1893, Wilfred Owen became one of the few outstanding poets who wrote about World War I. He joined the British Artist’s Rifle O.T.C. in 1915, and served with their 2nd Battalion from 1916-1917. Though he returned home in 1917 because of invalidity, he went back to the Western Front in 1918 where he was killed in battle on November 14.