On My Songs


Owen’s initial draft of “On my Songs” was written in January, 1913 (note: before the war began). At this time in Owen’s life he was really wanting to leave the Church he was working at in Dunsden. (Simcox) As you may remember from the documentary, Owen was disenchanted by his work at the church as he observed the disparity between the way the priest was living and the lives of the parishioners.

You may also remember from the same documentary that Owen was in love with poetry from a young age. His favourite poet may have been John Keats; many lines of Owen’s echo lines from Keats, and the other romantic poets like Shelley and Wordsworth.


  • woe: sadness
  • rime: rhyme
  • hoards: things that have been accumulated and stored away
  • fraught: affected by anxiety or stress
  • reveries: daydreams
  • crooning: singing
  • gloom: darkness
  • shouldst: should
  • illume: light up
  • haply: perhaps

Guiding Questions

  • What reason does Owen give for enjoying reading poetry?
  • What purpose does he hope his poems will serve?
  • Why do you think Owen refers to his poems as “songs”?


“On My Songs”. Simcox, Kenneth. The Wilfred Owen Association. 2006. (http://www.wilfredowen.org.uk/poetry/on-my-songs)