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Forum posts for Nice thoughts for Remembrance Day

Posted by jenn_in_ireland on Nov 07, 2007
"It is difficult to imagine something truly poetic and beautiful generating from war and conflict. For most of us the experience of war is remote. Those who have been affected by its destructive force are fortunately in a minority, but this was not always the case.

The First World War produced some of the most gifted and progressive authors, poets and artists of a generation, each channelling their individual and collective experiences into their chosen art form."

(http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/remembrance/poetry/wwone.shtml)


Dulce et Decorum Est
Wilfrid 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 I 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.

Anthem for a Doomed Youth
Wildrid Owen

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
--Only the monstrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
No mockeries for them from prayers or bells,
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,-
The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

What candles may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes
Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of silent minds,
And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

How to Die
Siegfried Sassoon

Dark clouds are smouldering into red
While down the craters morning burns.
The dying soldier shifts his head
To watch the glory that returns;
He lifts his fingers toward the skies
Where holy brightness breaks in flame;
Radiance reflected in his eyes,
And on his lips a whispered name.

You'd think, to hear some people talk,
That lads go West with sobs and curses,
And sullen faces white as chalk,
Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.
But they've been taught the way to do it
Like Christian soldiers; not with haste
And shuddering groans; but passing through it
With due regard for decent taste.

Posted by jenn_in_ireland on Nov 08, 2007
I meant to say in my original post that the title and final two lines of Owen's poem ("dulce et decorum est pro patria mori") are taken from a poem by Roman lyric poet, Horace (Odes iii 2.13), and roughly translate to:

"How sweet and fitting it is to die for your native land"

The old lie, indeed.


Posted by phduffy on Nov 12, 2007
Thanks Jenn, that was great.