Dulce Et Decorum Est

(Sweet and proper it is)

A poem by Wilfred Owen – this is one many of you may know.

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 toward 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 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 of such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori
(For your country, more)

43 thoughts on “Dulce Et Decorum Est

  1. Such an emotional and hard hitting piece. So often, we do not understand the price of war, though sometimes we must go to war, it is never glorious and in my mind never just. Thanks for sharing this, I hadn’t read it in a while.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. How beautiful and sweet it is to die for your country. I remember reading this poem in high school. That Latin phrase has remained with me even to this day…I think I’ve said this before. WWI was a special brand of terror.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It certainly does. It’s been called the “last romantic war” because the marched marched off willingly, thinking of glorious battle. Those that returned were forever changed… those that were not destroyed.


  3. The old lie … and a lie it was for the whole of that war … mustard gas, chlorine, and worse … my grandfather was gassed in 1915 and coughed up the last bit of of his lungs in 1955. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, like an eyewitness account. Wilfred Owen did fight in the war. He sickened and had to go home for a while but returned to the front in 1917. So he knows from whence he speaks…

      Liked by 1 person

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