“So, soon they topped the hill, and raced together
Over an open stretch of herb and heather
Exposed. And instantly the whole sky burned
With fury against them; earth set sudden cups
In thousands for their blood; and the green slope
Chasmed and deepened sheer to infinite space”
– from Spring Offensive by Wilfred Owen
When the centenary of the First World War was approaching, I knew I wanted to make something that marked the event which we should never forget. I was pleased to be commissioned by the Folio Society to make a body of work to accompany a new publication of Wilfred Owen’s poetry published 2018 to mark the centenary of Owen’s death and Armistice Day. Owen was killed by machine gun fire while leading his men across the Sambre-Oise canal on 4th November 1918, one week before the signing of the Armistice on the 11th November 1918.
Spring Offensive is one of Owen’s most famous poems with juxtapositions between life and death, and peace and war. This is a poem full of tension and false securities conveyed through the comfort, beauty and stillness of nature; a poem describing the calm before the storm. In the third stanza Owen compares the sun’s inabilty to avoid the impending conflict to a friend with whom love their love is done. More engravings from this series can be viewed here.
I hope this work With Whom Their Love is Done (Spring Offensive) in some way helps to mark the event, the war, Wilfred Owen and the tragic loss of life – Neil Bousfield 2018