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Poet’s Corner – Dulce Et Decorum Est


Hello again readers. I’m actually on time with posting this one (the joys of time zones). If you want your poetry posted as part of the Poet’s Corner please feel free to contact me (details in the About Us section).

Right onto the show, today is another one of my favourite famous poems – Wilfred Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est. This title of this poem translates as “It is sweet and fitting” and comes from a quote by Horace that in full says “Dulce et decorum est, pro patria mori” or for those of you who don’t speak Latin “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country”. This poem was written about Owen’s experience of WW1 trench warfare and being hit by a gas attack, it shows his view (also my view) on the idea of how good it is to die for one’s country in one of my favourite final stanzas.
Wilfred Owen was an English poet whose major famous works were written while on leave from active service during WW1 after being diagnosed with shell shock. He later returned to the front and died at the age of 25, this news reached his parents on November 11th – Armistice Day. He was one of the first poets to really break out of writing patriotic poetry and to shed a true light on war, He is still considered one of the greatest war poets.

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.

Hope you enjoy, please feel free to comment.

The Lonely Recluse.

Thanks goes to poets.org for the words of Dulce Et Decorum Est, and for the information I have summarised into Wilfred Owen’s very abridged biography.

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2 thoughts on “Poet’s Corner – Dulce Et Decorum Est

  1. I actually had to memorize this a few months for school. Being a fantasy writer myself, I had to go for the gory, descriptive war one. ;)Now that I no longer have to deal with it in a school setting, it's a brilliant poem. I've never been big on poetry, but Owen captures it brilliantly.

  2. I had to do it in history a few years back, never had to memorise it like, but just loved the poem, especially for how powerful the imagery and description is.To be honest I was never big on poetry till someone challanged me to write a poem, and I stuck with writing and, eventually, reading poetry. Glad I could pick a poem you enjoyed.The Lonely Recluse.

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