Issues Found of Wilfred Owen’s Publication: The Hydra

The British poet Wilfred Owen was a writer and editor on a Scottish publication called The Hydra, a capacity which he fulfilled from the safety of the a hospital meant for soldiers who were dealing with shell shock, the common name for a specific form of post-traumatic stress arisen from military conflict.Recently, three issues of Wilfred Owen’s publication were found at the hospital, and it is suspected to be possible that at least two of them are the only surviving issues ever to be located anywhere.

Oxford at least housed photo duplicates of some issues, though not of those which were discovered at the therapy center. The newly recovered hard copies will be housed by the War Poets Collection, which is run by a Scottish university that saw the writing of many Wilfred Owen poems in the past. Historians at the Edinburgh Napier University believe that writing and editing The Hydra was a keystone moment in his poetic career.

Given that it was shellshock which brought Wilfred Owen to the Craiglockhart War Hospital in the first place, it comes as no surprise that much of his poetry revolves around the war. There was, however, some glimmer of hope in some of his poetry as he wrote about his recovery while in hospice. They show what his life from day-to-day was like while in the hospital, both the ups and the downs.

Wilfred Owen deliberately states within his editorials that many of the shell shocked soldiers, not just himself, were making great strides in recovery while staying in the war hospital. This makes it all the more tragic when he eventually wrote that he was getting so much better that he was most likely to be returned to the trials and tribulations of the Great War, The Telegraph reports.

Almost making it to the very end of the conflict, Wilfred Owen did not fall until the final days of the First World War. It was on the fourth of November in 1918 that the poet finally fell in war. Not long before, he had written to a friend and colleague—another poet—about how poetry had the potential to stir the mind even more than the images which were right in front of him during the battle. This description of artistic power is not far off from how many have viewed the works of Wilfred Owen himself.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE