Patriotism? Or engaging in old lies?

This is one of my favorite poems by Owen Wilson. This one describes a gas attack during the first World War. This one of his many anti-war poems, but it was not published after WWI. At the end, he’s suggesting that dying for one country’s is a glorified lie.

What do you think?

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 boots

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?

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