Seeing a few clips of what has been happening in Syria the past couple of days, I recall a poem my dad read to me when I was younger, one of Wilfred Owen’s most famous poems from World War One. Over 100 years ago we knew the horrors of chemical weapons, and today they take the lives of children…
Dulce Et Decorum Est
Bend 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…
Dime 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 hold, 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 such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.*
*It is a sweet and fitting thing to die for your country.
By: Wilfred Owen