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 (1917–1918)

Wilfred Owen (1893–1918) was an English poet and a soldier in The Great War. He spent 1916–1917 on the front in France, and led a platoon into the Somme. He was hospitalized in England to recuperate from shell shock during 1917–1918, where he met fellow poet Sigfried Sassoon, and began to write the poems for which he is best known today. The early drafts of Dulce Et Decorum Est were personally dedicated To Jessie Pope, a civilian poet who published a number of jingoistic poems in popular newspapers, praising the heroism of soldiers and urging young men to enlist.

Owen went back to active service in France in October 1918. He was killed by machine gun fire at the forcing of the Sambre-Oise Canal, one week before the Armistice. He was awarded the Military Cross after his death, for courage on the battlefield.

3 Responses to “DULCE ET DECORUM EST”

  1. Dulce Et Decorum Est » Blog Archive » Mental Cases Says:

    […] Wilfred Owen (1917–1918) […]

  2. Dulce Et Decorum Est » Blog Archive » Stormtroopers Advancing Under Gas Says:

    […] Otto Dix (1891–1969) was a German Expressionist painter and a soldier in the Great War. This etching, from his series Der Krieg, is entitled Sturmtruppe geht unter Gas vor (Stormtroopers advancing under gas). Stormtroopers were units of specialist soldiers formed in order to carry out new infiltration tactics for assaulting Allied trenches, which were developed in the last year of the war. Stormtroopers moved in small groups ahead of the lines, often under cover of a poison gas attack. […]

  3. Dulce Et Decorum Est » Blog Archive » Disabled, by Wilfred Owen Says:

    […] Wilfred Owen (1917) […]

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