Sunday, 9 November 2008

Lest We Forget

Wilfred Owen

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.

"They cannot breathe lying down or sitting up. They just struggle for breath. But nothing can be done. Their lungs are gone. Some with their eyes and faces entirely eaten away by the gas and bodies covered with burns...One boy, today, screaming to die. The entire top layer of his skin burned from his face and body."

Recollected by nurse, Shirley Millard, and taken from Virginia Nicholson's Singled Out. How Two Million Women Survived Without Men After the First War.


Anonymous said...

So sad, oh so sad.

Wilfred Owen really captured the agony and the despair.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. It is vital that we never forget what these men and women went through so that we could have the freedom we have today. This poem was one I had to study at school. It gives us only a glimpse of the full scale of the horrors of war, but such skilled writing.

Seraphim said...

As one tearful gentleman said at our service we mustn't ever forget that they gave their today, for our tomorrow.

I'm pleased at the amount of rememberence posts I'm seeing today. It's good to remember.

Angela said...

Thank you for posting the poem - there have been some tremendously good posts this Remembrance weekend, to remind us of the freedom we have, and the cost of it. blessings x

Anonymous said...

I have no words, but thank you for these profound thoughts.

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Sarah
Yes, he was a wonderful poet.

Hi Tina
Yes, the poem is still studied today, thank God.

Hi Seraphim
Yes, that's so right. We mustn't forget the terrible sacrifices they made.

Hi Angela
Yes, the blogger seemed to have come out in force for Remembrance Sunday 11/11.

Hi Miss Vandroo
It's so very sad, the horrors of war.

Islandsparrow said...


I just came back from our Remembrance day service. Our veterans are few in number now - old men bent with age - but still standing bravely at attention when the last post is played.

Dulce Domum said...

Hi Island Sparrow
We have only a few WWI veterans left. It was touching to see them at the cenotaph on Sunday.