Friday, October 27, 2006

I've no real experience at war or like bloodshed, but this, one of the most well-known poems from the First World War, speaks well what I feel:

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

*Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country


Wilfred Owen died in combat just six days prior to the armistice that ended that particular war. He is a man who has my deepest respect.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I'm liking your page again much more as it grows. Thank you for sharing.
cw

english said...

yes, you nailed it.

I also like how Falstaff puts it in his catechism at the end of King Henry IV, act 5, scene 1.

http://www-tech.mit.edu/Shakespeare/1henryiv/1henryiv.5.1.html

anyway, nice pics at sunset too. glad I found your blog. I think we met last year at el Rinconcito.

adam said...

Thanks, eped.
Thanks for the mention of Falstaff. The play has much to say, indeed. Another fine instance is the king's reaction to Glendower's death. No joy even in the old adversary's demise.

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