PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
M. Wynn ThomasThe Other Side of the Hedge
(PN Review 239)
Next Issue Beverley Bie Brahic, after Leopardi's 'Broom' Michael Freeman Benefytes and Consolacyons Miles Burrows At Madame Zaza’s and other poems Victoria Kenefick Hunger Strike Hilary Davies Haunted by Christ
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review Blog

This article is taken from PN Review 213, Volume 40 Number 1, September - October 2013.

An exhibition of text-works by Stephen Raw, at St John's Priory Church, London, June-July 2013

Was It For This Clay Grew Tall?
Stephen Raw
The poems of Wilfred Owen are now widely known and much quoted, so it is perhaps surprising that they were not on any syllabus when I was at school. Indeed, it was only by listening to the War Requiem as a young man that I first encountered his powerful poetry. So I feel a debt of gratitude to Benjamin Britten for choosing Owen's words to be the major voice of his masterpiece. Somewhat later in life -  ten years ago -  I constructed and painted a sarcophagus/altar in response to Owen's haunting poem 'The Parable of the Old Men and the Young'. This is a retelling of the ancient story of Abraham and Isaac which, for me, poses contemporary questions about the nature of sacrifice. I subsequently became increasingly curious to see what would happen if I took the remaining text of War Requiem -  including the Latin Missal -  and put it together in one place. Britten's approaching centenary was the final impetus I needed to get started. In the works shown here, I have explored Britten's juxtaposition of the nine poems expressing Owen's brutal experiences in the trenches alongside the centuries-old Latin of the 'Missa pro Defunctis': pity and anger engaging reverential and commemmorative language.
stephen raw


image of text-work by Stephen Raw
image of text-work by Stephen Raw
image of text-work by Stephen Raw

image of text-work by Stephen Raw

All images © Stephen Raw
...


Searching, please wait... animated waiting image