Monday, November 4, 2019

Wilfred Owen’s death on the Western Front

On November 4, 1918, just one week before the armistice was declared, ending World War I, the British poet Wilfred Owen is killed in action during a British assault on the German-held Sambre Canal on the Western Front. 


And there is this: “Dulce et decorum est” by Wilfred Owen 

Note:

At the end of the poem, the Latin phrase is from the Roman poet Horace: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.”


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 gas-shells dropping softly 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 flound’ring 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.

3 comments:

  1. somehow i just can't get behind that... i don't believe war is all that great...

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    Replies
    1. I believe he was being ironic in citing the old lie ..... right?

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    2. probably; i miss a lot, i know...

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