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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Dulce et Decorum Est

Remembrance day is a time to remember those, like J's grandpa, who went to war and ended up giving their lives for our freedom. J's grandpa was gassed in WW2...he came home sick and never recovered. Many others never got the gift of being able to see their families again after leaving to fight for freedom. In our modern age people fight wars for their family's freedom...others for things like oil and greed, and I wonder if we here in Canada forget what it was like to live in a time when we gathered to fight for our freedom as a people. I wonder if we truly have a concept of what this means anymore...As the veterans fade from our lives we will not have memories of that time to draw on. Phrases like "Never Again" are easily said but hard to live and mean less and less as time goes on if we do not take the time to remember. Christmas marketeers cannot even have the ounce of respect to leave the stores uncluttered between Halloween and November 11...the respect deserved is fading.
J is currently at work, working with the TV crew to put the local Remembrance Day program on the air so that those of us who cannot make it down there can have the chance to offer respect and memory on this day. I am at home where I can watch it. Watch his small gift of remembrance. Last year I was able to attend and it was a very moving thing...to see adults and children remembering family and friends and unknown people who served to keep us safe both then and now...very moving.

I have been thinking about poetry from the time of World War One. I love In Flander's Fields - I had memorised it in high school. I got to wondering what other well known poems were written around that time...what other thoughts came out of World War 1 in particular. They can't all be pretty inspiring words...and I came across this poem. It is very striking and I wanted to share it with you, because it's different. It speaks a lot of how senseless I feel war can be...

DULCE ET DECORUM EST

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".

Wilfred Owen, written between 8 October 1917 – March, 1918

DULCE ET DECORUM EST are the first words of a Latin saying from an ode by Horace. The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean “It is sweet and right.” The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori – it is sweet and right to die for your country.


Poem and other things taken kindly from here.

I think that's all I have to say on that for now.
Take the time to Remember my friends...

2 comments:

diddums said...

I remember we studied that poem too. Very beautiful.

Sometimes I wonder if people really forget -- I think we remember but there are some things that just never change, including the fact that such wars grew out of normal society in the first place.

I wonder if that's a dark way of looking at it (though no darker than the poet's)... bring on the blinky lights. :-) Maybe I'll get the tree down soon and beat everybody else in our street.

Pacian said...

Yeah, they taughts us that poem (Dulce et Decorum Est) when I was at school. Very fitting.