DULCE ET DECORUM EST

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 out 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.
~Wilfred Owen
The Latin title of this poem means:
“Sweet and fitting it is to die for one’s country.”
(From Horace, Odes, III. ii. 13)

 

gas attack

The Land of Never

The Land of Never

Have you ever been so clever
You visited the Land of Never?
“Never will I eat the foods that make me fat,
Never will I say those awful words
Like Heckedy Schmekedy drat,”
Or in a moment of practiced pique
When your bottom’s fallen in the creek:
“Never ever will I do that again,
No horse could drag me through that glen,”
Or when your friend and you
have a falling out,
A spat where you cross your arms and shout,
“That’s it, never will I be your friend!
Never! Never! Never! The End!” . . .

But

it’s not the end,
now is it?
You’ll eat the pie despite the pounds and zits,

You’ll say some awful things
Because they have a righteous ring,

You’ll take that trip to somewhere far away,
Smiling as you wipe off spray,

You’ll call your friends
And make amends,

You’ll say, “Did I say ‛Never’”?
For me that’s far too clever.
Let’s take a walk
Around the block,
Pluck a dandelion on the fly,
Pick out Orion in the sky.
Whatever we may endeavor
Let’s steer clear
Of the Land of Never.”
~Day Williams

 

Echo