National Poetry Month — Poetry Hit

When I was 16, I was protesting the first Gulf War. I remember walking down a hallway, maybe into the library at school, and catching a glimpse of the bombing of Baghdad and the green tracers like aberrant fireworks in the dark night sky. I had never seen a war on TV before, and it was real in a way that nothing is real anymore after all these years of TV and war and violence on it. There were people under those bombs and because of the TV they were real to me, people like me and my family, who lived around the world in time zone where it was already night.

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 disappointed shells 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 floundering 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.

Also the 10,000 Maniacs performed the poem in the song The Latin One during their Hope Chest tour in 1990.

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