Dulce et Decorum est and all that

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by wipers_times, Sep 10, 2007.

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  1. Hope it's OK to post here as I'm not a serving member of the forces, but I wasn't sure how else to get a quick note out. Anyway I wanted to point you to a new site under google groups called 'Modern War Poetry' (http://groups.google.co.uk/group/modern-war-poetry). It's not about Wilfred Owen, more about the next Wilfred Owen. It's just started and will be a place for people to post and discuss new or old poems/song lyrics about war. More importantly we're looking for anyone in the forces (past or present) who has written, or wants to write some poetry about their experiences. We can give advice and maybe even help you get published. So if you have a moment then join the group.

    And yes, I know the term 'War poetry' brings to mind Baldrick's 'Bang, bang, bang' war poem in 'Blackadder' but it can be much more than that as in the following.


    'Does it Matter?' by S. Sassoon (1917)

    Does it matter?—losing your legs?...
    For people will always be kind,
    And you need not show that you mind
    When the others come in after hunting
    To gobble their muffins and eggs.

    Does it matter ?—losing your sight?...
    There's such splendid work for the blind;
    And people will always be kind,
    As you sit on the terrace remembering
    And turning your face to the light.

    Do they matter?—those dreams from the pit?...
    You can drink and forget and be glad,
    And people won't say that you're mad;
    For they'll know you've fought for your country
    And no one will worry a bit
  2. "To see a leap of purple spurt from his thigh"

    Who was that?
  3. ProWord NoWah

    Disabled -Wilfred Owen

    He sat in a wheeled chair, waiting for dark,
    And shivered in his ghastly suit of grey,
    Legless, sewn short at elbow. Through the park
    Voices of boys rang saddening like a hymn,
    Voices of play and pleasure after day,
    Till gathering sleep had mothered them from him.

    About this time Town used to swing so gay
    When glow-lamps budded in the light-blue trees
    And girls glanced lovelier as the air grew dim,
    - In the old times, before he threw away his knees.
    Now he will never feel again how slim
    Girls' waists are, or how warm their subtle hands,
    All of them touch him like some queer disease.

    There was an artist silly for his face,
    For it was younger than his youth, last year.
    Now he is old; his back will never brace;
    He's lost his colour very far from here,
    Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry,
    And half his lifetime lapsed in the hot race,
    And leap of purple spurted from his thigh.
    One time he liked a bloodsmear down his leg,
    After the matches carried shoulder-high.
    It was after football, when he'd drunk a peg,
    He thought he'd better join. He wonders why...
    Someone had said he'd look a god in kilts.

    That's why; and maybe, too, to please his Meg,
    Aye, that was it, to please the giddy jilts,
    He asked to join. He didn't have to beg;
    Smiling they wrote his lie; aged nineteen years.
    Germans he scarcely thought of; and no fears
    Of Fear came yet. He thought of jewelled hilts
    For daggers in plaid socks; of smart salutes;
    And care of arms; and leave; and pay arrears;
    Esprit de corps; and hints for young recruits.
    And soon, he was drafted out with drums and cheers.

    Some cheered him home, but not as crowds cheer Goal.
    Only a solemn man who brought him fruits
    Thanked him; and then inquired about his soul.
    Now, he will spend a few sick years in Institutes,
    And do what things the rules consider wise,
    And take whatever pity they may dole.
    To-night he noticed how the women's eyes
    Passed from him to the strong men that were whole.
    How cold and late it is! Why don't they come
    And put him into bed? Why don't they come?

    Wilfred Owen
  4. Thanks, that wasn't a Wah, i did it at school and it (obviously, i remebered it word for word, even the author! :roll: ) stuck in my mind.
  5. Dulce et Decorum est is not a poem I may ever read without welling up.

    I was rather surprised to see The Old Lie still writ large above the chancel in the RMAS Chapel in the mid 90's.

    Here's a lesser known WW1 masterpiece:
  6. Not read that before VM, could be written by this chap

  7. Ord_Sgt

    Ord_Sgt RIP

    I've just opened a new book, Condor Blues by Mark Nichol and the opening page has the following poem:

    No Thanks Given.

    I am he whom others do not want to be and go where others fear to go.
    I do what others have failed to do and ask nothing from those who give nothing.
    I accept, reluctantly, the thought of eternal loneliness should I fail.

    I have seen the face of terror.

    I have felt the stinging cold of fear and enjoyed the sweet taste of a moment's love.

    I have cried, pained and hoped.
    But most of all I have lived times others would say were best forgotten.

    This day, I am proud of who I am.

    I am an infantry soldier.

    This poem was pinned to the wall at Camp Condor.
    The identity of its author is unknown.
  8. I think you refer to that literary masterpiece "The German Guns"

    "Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom,
    Boom, Boom, Boom,
    Boom, Boom, Boom, Boom,
    Boom, Boom, Boom"

    and you can put "url" and "/url" in [] brackets either side of the url in your first post so people can click on to the link like this

  9. Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon were among the first of a new breed. The rise of socialism.

    Both were socialist ,and both were probably 'poofters'.

    That is not to say they didn't have a view, and a view that needed to be heard.
  10. Thanks for posting that poem up 'offside leader'. I think that was excellent.

    Didnt I read somewhere that Sassoons VC and Webley pistol had recently been rediscovered?
  11. His MC was found by a member of the family, and maybe his pistol also. This is odd becuase I had a feeling that in his memoirs he says he threw this into the sea, but I may be wrong. I'm sure that is the scene in 'Regeneration' also.
  12. The Veteran
    by Margaret Postgate

    We came upon him sitting in the sun,
    Blinded by war, and left. And past the fence
    There came young soldiers from the Hand and Flower,
    Asking of his experience.

    And he said this, and that, and told them tales,
    And all the nightmares of each empty head
    Blew into air; then, hearing us beside,
    'Poor chaps, how'd they know what its like?' he said.

    And we stood there, and watched him as he sat,
    Turning his sockets where they went away,
    Until it came to one of us to ask
    'And you're how old?'
    'Nineteen, the third of May.'
  13. Odd, many think poetry is irrelevant, but still it has such power, as in this one by Yeats...

    An Irish Airman Foresees His Death

    I know that I shall meet my fate
    Somewhere among the clouds above;
    Those that I fight I do not hate,
    Those that I guard I do not love;
    My country is Kiltartan Cross,
    My countrymen Kiltartan's poor,
    No likely end could bring them loss
    Or leave them happier than before.
    Nor law, nor duty bade me fight,
    Nor public men, nor cheering crowds,
    A lonely impulse of delight
    Drove to this tumult in the clouds;
    I balanced all, brought all to mind,
    The years to come seemed waste of breath,
    A waste of breath the years behind
    In balance with this life, this death.
  14. Not sure if it's still available but there is a vg poetry/prose book called 'Captive Voices'. It's probably not everyone's cup of tea and isn't strictly speaking 'war poetry' but still very thought provoking.

    The book includes a mixture of prose and poetry written by folks who have been imprisoned for their beliefs/consciences/politics inc poems from the Balkans, South America etc. In some cases it is a good reminder of why we have a Global responsibility to the people of other nations....

    As I say, quite contemporary, a little controversial and not everyone's cup of tea, but recommended nonetheless