LETTER : Give me `schoolboy clumsiness' any time of Wilfred Owen

In his review of Britten's War Requiem, Michael White refers to "the schoolboy clumsiness of Wilfred Owen's poetry" ("Twenty years on, Britten's still great", Real Life, 8 December). Likethousands of others, I had been under the illusion that Owen was the greatest war poet in the language and had written some of the most sensitive, moving and technically accomplished verse ever composed on the subject.

It had been my understanding that Britten chose Owen's poems because he believed they were the most accurate reflection of the sensitivities and experiences of those who fought in the First World War.

Owen's poetry reveals modern warfare as horrific, exploitative and hypocritical. Those are things worth knowing, and worth ensuring that each new generation learns - preferably from reading poems rather than from dying on battlefields. Owen's, to my mind, are of far more value than the slick posturing of certain music critics.

Andrew Matthews

Reading, Berkshire

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