Dulce et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

"Wilfred Owen plate from Poems (1920)" by Unknown - http://www.archive.org/details/poemsowenwil00owenrich. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wilfred_Owen_plate_from_Poems_(1920).jpg#mediaviewer/File:Wilfred_Owen_plate_from_Poems_(1920).jpg

“Wilfred Owen plate from Poems (1920)” by Unknown

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 tired, outstripped Five-Nines 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 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.

Wilfred Owen [1893-1918]

Siegfried Sassoon, Hopelessness and Iraq

Critical Dispatches

Sassoon

Snooping around the charity shops of West London a week past, I spied a copy of Siegfried Sassoon’s fictionalized autobiography, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer, on sale for £1. The discovery of a such a volume came as a revelation as although I had been aware of and enjoyed Sassoon’s poetic work (along with Wilfred Owen, he is my hero as far as political poetry is concerned) since I was a preteen– as I am sure anyone born in the North West of England is bred into – I had no idea that he also published prose. At a quid, I would have been the worst sort of miser not to pick it up.

The scale of the whole thing – the de-humaning conditions, the destruction of human life, the sheer hopelessness of it all – is nothing less than horrifying. I remember reading in Savage Continent, Keith Lowe’s brilliant…

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