TBPL Staff Poetry Favourites “Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
 Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
 Till on the haunting flares we turned out 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
 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

Barb was moved by the poignancy and sadness of the massive loss of life and innocence during the First World War.  Another of her favourite poems is “In Flanders Fields” by Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae.

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