Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Dulce et decorum est

"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 in 1918
Read the whole poem HERE
Look up what I found on George Butterworth in the military archives (more accurate than material in the only bio)
And HERE is a piece by Robert Fisk, who's written so powerfully about the Middle East. He expands the meaning of 11/11 beyond the First World War to all conflicts. "But this I would say, standing in view of God and eternity, I realise that patriotism is not enough. I must have no hatred or bitterness towards anyone."

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