Dulce et Decorum Est

English: Portrait of Wilfred Owen, found in a ...
English: Portrait of Wilfred Owen, found in a collection of his poems from 1920. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Remembrance Day has recently been celebrated in Canada and one of its objectives, I believe, is to get people thinking about the wars past in order to help prevent another. Thinking of the Great Wars and World War 1, always turns my mind to the poem written by Wilfred Owen: Dulce et Decorum Est. The first time I read it, I was fourteen years old and sitting in my history class. While the teacher was reading it, I felt goosebumps on my skin. I imagined in my mind the horrors the men had felt and experienced while fighting in the trenches. While reading the poem later, my beliefs in the futility of war were cemented. How could the pain and suffering experienced during battle between countries be a good thing? Surely, I asked myself, better solutions can be found to the problems that cause these wars.

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 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 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,

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.*

(* = it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country)

What do you think of Wilfred Owen’s poem?

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2014

This post is linked to Annie Rim‘s Poets Anonymous in which she posts a poem on the 15th of every month.)

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28 thoughts on “Dulce et Decorum Est

  1. What do I think of the poem? I wish it had never had to be written. 😦
    But it is good that talented people write moving poems about war. We need to ever be reminded and remember.
    If only the leaders of countries were the fighters and not young men………..

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You don’t forget this poem in a hurry Colline . He was a fine poet , such a great shame he lost his life so close to the end of the war .

    Like

  3. The poem is beautiful and thought provoking. My thoughts on war, however, are another story. Take away the bankers, the politicians, and the power-hungry elite, and I suspect wars would end rather quickly. I have yet to meet an individual person who condones war, unless they were duped into believing it is for the ‘security’ of our (being an American citizen) Nation. I have my thoughts on that subject, too, but being a friendly little orple-keeper I’ll keep my opinion to myself. LOL.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with you. I see war being the result of politicking and of men wanting supreme power over others. The men that make the decision to go to war are not the ones suffering the consequences and hardships of the fighting.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Wilfred Owen has always been a favourite of mine. Today I read four of his poems at a Last Post event in our town alongside a fellow poet who included Sassoon and other into his readings. We both read several of our own pieces as well. We had music from the era from Vic Cracknell which had loads of us singing along! It was a really moving event and I was so proud to be involved, paying tribute to everyone who has suffered as a result of war. I’ll be putting a post together about the event!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Thanks for sharing this. I am more familiar with John McCrae’s poem, which i recently wrote about. I think that Wilfred Owen’s poem is more of an eye opener and it certainly gives us the gruesome imagery of the reality of war.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. First time I have read it Colline.
    Only a man who has been to Hell and back
    Could pen those words.
    And yet still vain young men chase the battlefields glory.
    Not realising that they will see into the very Soul of Hell.
    Ian

    Like

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