The Parable of the Old Man and the Young

I’m still holding on to my personal ban of war posting, as there is enough of that going on already, but a post by Lucian really grabbed me, though the commenter Walker has a good point about the story’s conclusion. Anyway my english professor gave me a copy of this poem today which really speaks, especially when you think about the story of Abraham and Isaac critically, in light of all its implications. It’s written by Wilfred Owen, who for those of you not familiar with him is widely regarded to be the poet (at least for England) of the first World War. He was killed in battle a year before the war ended in 1918.

So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb, for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not they hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him. Behold.
A ram, caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.

But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.

5 replies on “The Parable of the Old Man and the Young”

  1. Well actually he was killed seven days before the end of hostilities (armistice)
    http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/LostPoets/Owen2.html
    http://www.hcu.ox.ac.uk/jtap/warpoems.htm
    A fabulous poet. Associated with another famous English war poet, Siefried Sassoon (http://www.oucs.ox.ac.uk/ltg/projects/jtap/tutorials/intro/sassoon/).
    ‘Regeneration’ is a movie based on their relationship (http://www.iofilm.co.uk/fm/r/regeneration_1997.shtml).
    Love your blog, by the way. This is London calling…:)

  2. Thank you so much for this information. You’re from London? Wow… How’d you end up here?

    The second link Bob posted has dozens more touching poems that everyone should check out.

  3. I was hoping that someone could tell me what year this poem was written. I need to know today (September 30, 2004) if AT ALL possible!!! Thank you so much!

  4. I’m a huge WIlfred Owen and Sassoon fan, i love thier war poetry but this poem really captured me when i heard it in the WW1 film Regeneration. i would love to know the name of this poem and if anyone can tell me that would be great. thanks.

Comments are closed.