Dulce Et Decorum Est
Wilfred Owen, (1893-1918}
  • His most mature works were all created in the very short space
  • between August 1917 and September 1918
  • Drafted in October 1917; later revised in early 1918

  • Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
  • Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through
  • 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.
  • Click to return to our Poets' corner
  • 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.