“Dulce et Decorum Est” by Wilfred Owen

World War I
“Sweet and fitting it is
To die for one’s country.”
Poem emblematic of the First World War, and of all war.
-The Voice before the Void

“Dulce et Decorum Est”

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 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. Continue reading

“Anthem for Doomed Youth” by Wilfred Owen

World War I:
Every day since, and every day forever, is somber, for the memory of millions.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Anthem for Doomed Youth”

Wilfred Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of good-byes.
The pallor of girls’ brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

“Apologia Pro Poemate Meo” by Wilfred Owen

ANZAC Day Special:
In commemoration of the First World War
Perhaps there can be no more poignant context for poetry than pointless, grinding, immense slaughter; perhaps there can be no greater poet than Wilfred Owen. In his “Apology for My Poetry,” Owen beautifully inscribes the perversity of soldier-victims of slaughter finding joy in their camaraderie and in their own perpetration of slaughter, and he indicts all of humanity for its institution of war that compels such perversity. The title is mordant; it is we who must apologize to Owen – and to all the other victims of war – for creating the conditions in which he created this poetry.
⁓The Voice before the Void

“Apologia Pro Poemate Meo”

Wilfred Owen

I, too, saw God through mud,–
The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled.
War brought more glory to their eyes than blood,
And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.

Merry it was to laugh there–
Where death becomes absurd and life absurder.
For power was on us as we slashed bones bare
Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder. Continue reading