The poem "The Parable of the Old Man and the Young", usually attributed to Wilfred Owen although much of it was written by Siegfried Sassoon, is a slight retelling of the Biblical story of Abraham and Isaac (see Genesis 22) in such a way as to turn it into an allegory of the First World War.
Not counting the chilling last two lines, how much does this poem differ from the Bible story? I've looked at this version of Genesis 22, but of course there are many versions and translations of the Bible which must have various slight differences between them. I'm interested in how much of the wording of the poem was designed to be WWI-specific. For example:
- clearly "took the fire with him, and a knife" is not specifically part of the war allegory, as almost exactly the same words appear in the Genesis link above;
- I suspect that "parapets and trenches" is a war reference, and that all Abraham builds in any version of the Bible story is an altar;
- what about, for instance, "belts and straps"? Do they appear in some version of the Bible story, or are they meant to represent the uniforms worn by young conscripted soldiers?
Most of all, I'm interested in "the Ram of Pride". In the Bible story, Abraham sacrifices a ram instead of his son. But does the symbolic identification of this ram with Pride have any Biblical background, or is it an invention of the WWI poets?