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Dulce Et Decorum Est or All Wars are caused by Assholes


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 disappointed shells 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 floundering 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 was killed in action at the Battle of the Sambre, just one week before the war ended.

For more topical poems, check out Frank’s post here.

Here’s about as poetic I can get on the subject: All wars are caused by Assholes.

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One Response to “Dulce Et Decorum Est or All Wars are caused by Assholes”

  1. patricia Says:

    This is my favourite poem from the WWI poets. The English prof who introduced me to poets like Owen & Sassoon would always choke up and get teary-eyed when he read the class Dulce Et Decorum Est.

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