“Futility”- A poem By Wilfrid 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?

I love the crisp last line- “What made fatuous sunbeams toil/To break earth’s sleep at all?” If the sun had taken so much effort to bring to life the seeds in his home and wake the earth and now the young soldier again and again, why does he not wake him now from his sleep? The questions are asked with the full knowledge of their futility. Because the sunbeams are “fatuous”,silly and dense enough to work without purpose. Nature makes its beautiful works and when they are destroyed, hardly cares to restore them to their life.

The futility of human existence is brought home beautifully in the way the sun has dealt with the soldier at different points of time. Its touch awoke him once, at home It always woke him , even in France. Until this morning and this snow. The limbs of the soldier are so dear-achieved. Why has nature now abandoned this exquisite piece of its work?