Dulce et Decorum Est

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
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,--
26To children ardent for some desperate glory,
27The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
28Pro patria mori.


25] high zest: cf. Owen Seaman's "Pro Patria" (1914), which calls for those at home to "... confirm their prowess and their pride, / Your warrior sons, to whom in this high test / Our fortunes we confide" (my italics). Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 1996-2000.