armistice day

Dulce et Decorum Est
Wilfred Owen, 1893 – 1918

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.

And death shall have no dominion
Dylan Thomas

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead man naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.


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battlescarred, bright, bewildered, bent, blue & bipolar

19 thoughts on “armistice day”

  1. I used to listen to theThe Damned all the time way back in the 80’s.
    Their music brought me comfort. Reading your post today inspired me to share their song “In Dulce Decorum” (which I found out means “it is sweet and honorable…”)
    from the “Anything” album.

    Both The Damned and Owen’s pieces of writing are moving.

    The Damned’s “In Dulce Decorum”

    Dear mother how I will write this line
    When I know I’m counting time
    I’m tired and I’m scared
    I’m waiting and death’s my friend

    To say in God we trust not for this
    Oh the death and glory boys not for this

    Dear beloved try to write to you
    Through the senseless deaths of a million troops
    I’m waiting my time is near
    As my tears wash away my years

    To say in God we trust not for this
    Oh the death and glory boys not for this

    Where I walk where I see
    The haunting flares where my friends bleed
    I see the face of the enemy
    Of a man or boy who is just like me
    Now you’re not there
    All the tears we bled
    Cut through like winters rain
    Can’t you feel the pain

    And if I could ever sleep again
    I know till the end of time I’d hear
    Their screams of pain
    Dulce dulce decorum
    Dulce dulce decorum
    Dear mother I’ll write to you


    Liked by 1 person

      1. :))) That’s cool! One of all-time my favorite songs (instrumental, even) is their “Trojans” – it’s so beautiful! And hard to equate with a group named “The Damned”, eh?

        And as far as that “death” typo – that is pretty fucking hilarious!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. And here in Canada:

    In Flanders fields the poppies blow
    Between the crosses, row on row,
    That mark our place; and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the Dead. Short days ago
    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Loved and were loved, and now we lie
    In Flanders fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The torch; be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
    In Flanders fields.

    – John McCrae, May 1915

    Liked by 2 people

  3. LOVE Wilfred Owen and Sigfried Sassoon. And Journey’s End. I know the axis of history is changing again and those who thought war was glorious have more of a voice and control over the past (such as the Education minister who decides what kids learn in history), but I always thought it was incredibly brave that men spoke out about the terrible conditions they endured and against popular opinion of the time. I am truly indebted to these amazing, strong role models and the horrors they had to endure. And from leftfield: if they hadn’t had such terrible things in WWI, PTSD would not now be diagnosable. That’s fucked up on many levels but at least the rest of the world did it a teensy bit better than Austro-Hungary and Germany, who both decided (this I got from Salzburg Museum’s exhibition on WWI and WWII) that PTSD soldiers were only fit to be experimented on by scientists and “doctors.” That made me feel sick, and I *believe* that’s how ECT got invented. War: The gift that keeps taking (lives, long after the ceasefires).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I love this entire comment and I don’t think it’s fucked up to find a sliver of silver in things, because you’re not doing so in order to justify war. I have every respect for soldiers and none at all for governments. I come from a long line of brave soldiers who did what they felt was right, or had to do it regardless, and armistice day is when I honour every single one of them and all soldiers, no matter which country they fought for. I’m very pompous about it too *grin*

      Liked by 1 person

      1. And yes about the “no matter which country” bit. I hate people who are all like “and my granddad killed FIFTY Jerrys/Vietmamese/Iraquis/IRA.” We’re all human beings.
        I literally did get sick and dizzy in the Salzburg museum, as I was suddenly faced with loads of information that put into context WWI, tiny details that made it all make a LOT more sense than what I learned in school or since, and I suddenly had the overwhelming feeling that Britain was on the “wrong” side (during the FIRST world war not the second, I would NEVER contest the horror and evil of the Nazi party and what they did to people both inside and outside Germany was appalling). I need to review the photos I took and write that into a travel article at some point but it’s so emotionally charged and I don’t know how to do justice to it without coming across as pro-Nazi despite the fact that they came later because of the crippling “war reparations” Germany had to pay to the rest of Europe and had nothing to do with the causes of WWI AFAIK. I hope that makes sense.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Ja it makes sense. Too many crimes perpetrated by the Allies in ww2 as well. You can’t claim moral superiority when you’ve known of and ignored concentration camps for most of the war.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. It might be a very selfish attitude but at least something came out of The Great War. Many people gained/re-gained independence, including one of my countries. But the cost was horrendous.


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