Joyce Kilmer

John McCrae

Wilfred Owen - Poetry Wilfred Owen

(1893 - 1918)

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 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... 
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.


* Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori (Horace):
It is sweet and right to die for your country

flares: rockets which were sent up to burn with a brilliant
    glare to light up enemy targets
five-nines: 5.9 calibre explosive shells
helmets: the early name for gas masks
panes: the glass in the eyepieces of the gas masks

'Gassed' by John Singer Sargent - Imperial War Museum London

Early in the morning of November 4th 1918,
Wilfred Owen led an attempt with his battalion to cross
the Oise-Sambre canal. He was killed by German fire
near the village of Ors.


John McCrae
In Flanders Fields

Joyce Kilmer
A prayer of a soldier in France

Dead Poets Society


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