Dulce et Decorum Est
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 gas-shells dropping softly 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
Bitten 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.
Byron stationed in France: WWI
I knew my great grandfather Byron when I was a child. He passed away when I was eight. He was a quiet and a kind man who always had a cigar in his hand, and frequently a glass of beer.
I’ve always wondered how strange it must have been for him. Besides the horror of the war in general, he was an American born German. His mother never learned very much English so neither did he until he started school. And there he was, stationed in France translating German radio signals… the enemy speaking his mother-tongue.
To my knowledge he never spoke of the war, but he had an argument with his priest when he returned to the United States and never went to church again. When my mother was young, she asked him why, and he replied, “there is more of God in my rose garden than there is in that house of stone.”