Wartime poem - "Dulce Et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

Listening & reading stories about the increase of veterans committing suicide evoked the phrase "guttering, choking, drowning" from a poem I could not fully recall. So I looked it up. It's below. Wilfred Owen was a World War I era poet who died in 1918, killed on the front lines at the age of 25 in the last week of the War.

To save you the trouble (as I had to look it up to verify) "dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" is from Horace's Odes and means "It is sweet and good form to die for your country."

Dulce Et Decorum Est
by 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.
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.