The Last Laugh

You can read the poem here and listen to it here.

Soldiers dead in a trench.


In a letter to his mother where he discussed this poem, Owen wrote: “There is a point where prayer is indistinguishable from blasphemy. There is also a point where blasphemy is indistinguishable from prayer. As in this first verse…” (Stallworthy). Owen originally called this poem “Last Words”. It was drafted in February, 1918, in Scarborough (where Owen stayed in the winter, between his stay in Craiglockhart and Ripon).


  • vainly: an adverb, describing something that is done without hope; ineffectually
  • guffaw: usually used to described a hearty laugh
  • shrapnel: the pieces of metal that explode out of bombs and grenades
  • rabbles: crowds or mobs; rabble is also used to describe people who are uncouth or inferior.

Guiding Questions 

  • How has Owen characterized the weapons?


Owen, Wilfred, and Jon Stallworthy. The War Poems of Wilfred Owen. London: Chatto & Windus, 1994. Print

Simcox, Kenneth. The Wilfred Owen Association. 2006. Online Source.