At a time when war was glorious and soldiers were heroes, Wilfred Owen was a lone voice who must have spoken for many thousands who felt unable to question blind patriotism, for fear of retribution.
By daring to highlight the horrific nature of bloody combat, and its regular futility, Owen and his friend Sigfried Sassoon created a legacy which lives on to this day, warning each next generation of the hell that is war.
Famously, Owen’s war poetry took shape when he was here in Scotland, recovering at Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh after suffering shell-shock on the Western Front. Owen also had a spell as a teacher at Tynecastle High School.
It is entirely fitting that the centenary of his stay in Edinburgh is to be marked by a series of events this year. Poignantly, re-enactors will be positioned along Princes Street, similar to UK-wide tributes at the anniversary of the Somme last year.
We have paused for thought during a succession of centenary events in recent years. Soon, those events will be over. But Owen’s poetry will remain a constant reminder that war must always be the last resort.