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Short poem

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Dulce et Decorum Est

              1Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
              2Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
              3Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
              4And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
              5Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
              6But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind;
              7Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
              8Of gas-shells dropping softly behind.

              9Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling
            10Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time,
            11But someone still was yelling out and stumbling
            12And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime.--
            13Dim through the misty panes and thick green light,
            14As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

            15In all my dreams before my helpless sight
            16He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.

            17If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace
            18Behind the wagon that we flung him in,
            19And watch the white eyes writhing in his face,
            20His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin,
            21If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood
            22Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs
            23Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud
            24Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,--
            25My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
            26To children ardent for some desperate glory,
            27The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
            28Pro patria mori.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Wilfred Owen, Poems By Wilfred Owen with an Introduction by Siegfried Sassoon (London: Chatto and Windus, 1921): 15. PR 6029 W4P6 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1918
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2001/12/6*1:2003/2/6

Composition date: 1918
Rhyme: abab
Form note: segments of different lengths

Other poems by Wilfred Owen