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POETRY OF WW1: WILFRED OWEN

Wilfred Owen is renowned as one of the most influential World War One poets.  To commemorate the centenary of his stay at Edinburgh’s Craiglockhart Hospital in 1917 where he penned some of his most famous work, a series of events has taken place across the city.

As commemorations continue, events including a walk in the Pentland Hills retracing the footsteps of Owen and a panel discussion headed by author Trevor Royle  will take place.  For more information and for full event listings, click here. 

Wilfred Owen

Published posthumously in 1920, Dulce et Decorum est is one of Owen’s most famous works that he composed whilst recovering at Craiglockhart Hospital.  Based on his own experience of trench life whilst at battle in northern France, the brutal language and imagery reveal the distressing environment soldiers were exposed to.

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 gas-shells dropping softly 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
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 

Learn more about Wilfred Owen here.