Monday, November 4, 2013


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

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

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

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

Dulce et Decorum Est, by Wilfred Owen (18/3/1893 – 4/11/1918)


  1. Dulce et decorum est
    Pro patria mori.

    Roughly translated as:
    It is sweet and right to die for your country

  2. Funny how so many poets got caught up in WW1. I suppose those were the only ones we heard from.

  3. Probly.
    It is sentimental really, given that he died on this day. I really like this poem. It's documenting a gas attack but WW1 would have been quite different to today.

  4. One of the few poems I bothered to learn by heart.

    "Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!--An ecstasy of fumbling"

    an ecstasy of fumbling... Only a man who had experienced the real terror of inevitable death yet survived could have penned those words. On the ranges we could reload a magazine with twenty rounds in seconds flat. Under fire it seemed to take ages, every round assuming a life of its own refusing to slip sweetly into the magazine as fingers, trembling with adrenalin dropped rounds or even magazines leaving us cursing as we scrabbled in the dirt to retrieve and clean them lest they jammed the rifle. Rifle firing ok, RIFLE STOPS! C'mon lad! You know the Drill! Cock, Hook and Look! Cock the weapon, hook the working parts to the rear, and LOOK! Faster lad, it's not just YOUR life that depends on it, it's those of your bleeding mates as well! Magazine empty? Change magazine! Misfed round? Magazine off and hook the bloody thing out, refit magazine, release the working parts forward and resume firing!! It was an empty magazine, wasn't it? For Fuck's sake Lad, how many times have I told you to count your yer fucking rounds? God Awmighty Lad! I hope I don't get you on my section!

    An ecstasy of fumbling. Perhaps the best line ever.

  5. Hippo, I reckon this is one of the better comments ever on A WineDark Sea.

    The 'ecstasy of fumbling' does remind me of racing yachts.
    On tacking: "Who was the fucking idiot who didn't thread that spinnaker sheet through the pulley? Too late! Fucking tack you pricks. Who's on the winch?
    WINCH. WINCH! Sarah! WINCH!"

    1. The guy who taught me to sail, John Lawrence, used to just twat us with the winch handle if we didn't move fast enough!

    2. I rather wish I'd made a post out of it on my own blog!