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Saturday, November 10, 2007


November 11th.
Dulce Et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--
Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light
As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

If in some smothering dreams you too could pace
Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin;
If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs,
Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Wilfred Owen
Owen was known as "The Soldiers' Poet" - he told it like it was, without the "Tunes of Glory" and knew the disgust, fright and filth of war.
(A commentary on this poem and on the poet can be read by clicking on his name above.)


Wenda said...

What powerful and heart-breaking poetry. How would even a survivor of such war survive the images?

herhimnbryn said...

I bought my Poppy yesterday from a Vietnam vet sitting quietly outside an australian supermarket.


chiefbiscuit said...

We have a different remembrance date - ANZAC day.
Fitting poem and photo. Thanks. Owens' poetry is memorable and important. Thank God he wrote.

Lucy said...

A great post for the 11th of the 11th. Owen's poetry is someof the first I remember making a really powerful impression.

Nea said...

A very vivid account........a nightmare for sure. sad......

The field of poppies is beautiful, but it kind of reminds one of a field of blood, I wonder if that is the analogy?

Vita said...

There was a Veteran's Day program performed two times with pizza in the middle for the performers in Corvallis. I wish this poem had been read at it. Maybe I'll suggest it to the organizer for next year. One song the high school choir did was especially beautiful: Waiting for the Dawn of Peace.

Avus said...

Nice to have you back, Vita!
Yes - it is a powerful piece of verse.