Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

Our Mid-Month’s Poet: Wilfred Owen

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
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.




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9 thoughts on “Our Mid-Month’s Poet: Wilfred Owen

  1. I studied this at school and the power of it is with me still. Wilfred Owen was one of the best war poets I think, simple plain words, impeccably chosen, haunting.


  2. Beautiful and tragic, a master in poetic description. The sheer horror of war encapsulated in every word. Thank you Tom. There is no glory in war.


  3. Great poem, well chosen, Tom. Easy to read, no obscure references or words and not, the ugliness of the subject is gut wrenching. And there is the ironic title and last lines. Read while looking at some Otto Dix war pictures for a multimedia experience.


  4. Much like John Prine’s “Hello In There,” I was first exposed to Wilfred Owen via 10,000 Maniacs:


  5. If you could hear blood
    Gurgling from ruptured lungs
    If you could witness
    Vile sores on innocent tongues
    You would not tell me
    Not with such pride and such zest
    The lies of history
    Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori
    Some desperate glory
    Pro patria mori
    As witness disturbs the story
    Pro patria mori
    Stand firm boys breathe the glory.

    As I listened I followed the lyrics. It doesn’t matter how many times I read the above – they strike me as equally devastating every time.


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