Deep Under Turfy Grass
As a young man Wilfred Owen, the radical WWI poet, lived nearby, in a small village in South Oxfordshire. I find it very moving to think of his spirit infusing the woods I walk in and the bylanes I cycle down, just as he did. Whilst living here as the assistant to the local vicar, he both lost and found his 'true north'. The poverty of the people, in stark contrast to the comfortable affluence of the vicar's set, raised in him a deep sense of discomfort. This was compounded by his growing recognition of his homosexuality, and his desperate yearning to give voice to poetry. He had a breakdown - the breakdown before his breakthrough.
Deep Under Turfy Grass was the poem he wrote in his time in Dunsden, that first presaged a hint of greatness. In the poem, a mother and her young child fell from the runaway cart they were travelling in, and were crushed beneath its wheels. What God, asked Owen, would allow such a thing?