double, like old beggar
s under sack
ing like hag
s, we curse
d through sludge
Till on the haunt
s we turned our backs
And towards our distant rest
began to trudge
Men marched asleep
. Many had lost their boot
ed on, blood
. All went lame
; all blind
even to the hoots
, 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.
- Wilfred Owen, 1920.
The name of the poem translates roughly from Latin to
"It is sweet and noble"; the concluding lines in the poem fill us in: "to die for one's country."