So I am obliged to admit that I still go to High Holy Day services every year, principally because it pleases my mother, although I'm also grudgingly obliged to admit that I like the high holy day liturgies, or at least, I have a sentimental attachment, and I like the songs. Anyway, the parsha for the second day (read in the morning services at most Reform temples) is the 22nd chapter of Genesis, which is the story for God commanding Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. During the Rabbi's interminable sermon on the subject (there is quite possibly nothing less interesting that Midrashic commentary on what happens to Isaac between his escaping the blade and then reappearing a few chapters and a couple of decades later in order to get married cast in vague and inoffensive terms as a tale of self-actualization; yoy), I drifted, but I was recalled to consciousness briefly and found, to my surprise and delight, that the Rabbi was actually quoting my favorite Wilfred Owen poem, "The Parable of the Old Men and the Young":
So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,Owen's occasional weakness is his anachronism; even in the 'teens, some of his thees and thous were starting to sound a little silly, although let's be fair, that huckster Yeats, the Robert Frost of Ireland, generally accounted a far greater poet that Owen, produced plenty of hackneyed, stilted tripe (along with some legitimate masterworks, fine, ok, fine) filled with similar diction. But Owen's subtle prosody and masterful experimentation with off-rhyme and partial consonance are important and innovative in their own right, and I believe that he was more than just an inventive wordsmith who by dint of subject matter produced memorable works, but one of the great poets of the first half of the twentieth century, and one of the greatest chroniclers of war in English. The "Parable" showcases his formal invention--it is in effect a sonnet in blank verse with a singly rhymed couplet, although it almost fools you into thinking its rhymed throughout--and is remarkable and subtle in the way it both does and does not turn the Biblical account of Avram's almost-sacrifice on its head.
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,
And stretchèd forth the knife to slay his son.
When lo! an Angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him, thy son.
Behold! Caught in a thicket by its horns,
A Ram. Offer the Ram of Pride instead.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son,
And half the seed of Europe, one by one.