To read about F's and my London trip, start here and click "newer post" to continue the story.

Monday, May 25, 2009

On Memorial Day it's right to remember and be thankful for our fallen soldiers. We can do that, and still hate war, wish it was never necessary, and grieve for what it does to people. I think that if we observe Memorial Day we can't just glorify sacrifice in the abstract - we have to count the cost.


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.

- Wilfred Owen
8 October 1917 - March, 1918


Nancy said...

Excellent choice - thank you. I'm glad I read that poem again today.

Mrs. Who said...

Oh, wow. I can't say I've ever heard that poem before. Very thought-provoking.

Laura(southernxyl) said...

Kind of the flip side of "Charge of the Light Brigade" isn't it?

Owen was shot and killed one week before the end of WWI ... his mother was informed of his death while the church bells were ringing on Armistice Day.