Dolce 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[1] 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.

Lest we forget? We have forgotten. Our soldiers, condemned to kill and die so that others may live, are even now being funnelled into yet greater horrors to prop up somebody’s profit margin.

Civilians, the very people soldiers are meant to defend, have been subjected to endless war.

We broke the faith.

Dulce et Decorum Est

It is the one hundredth anniversary of the end of the First World War, and the eightieth anniversary of Kristallnacht.

And here we are again. Antisemitism is on the rise; the shooting in Pittsburgh is only the most graphic example.

The militaries of the world’s great powers are staffed by people who range from the incompetent to merely being unable to understand the new technologies and how they change warfare.

Our politicians, particularly in the United States, are aggressive and power-hungry. They use the rhetoric of martial power and pride, but Donald Trump was a draft-dodger and Putin a KGB thug. These are not men who fought in the trenches or the jungles or any other such thing. Just men who think they can exploit those who have.

Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. The old lie.

I don’t have an answer here, no pithy comment on how to defeat the forces of violence and cruelty this time.

But I know we must reject their lies. That we must reject cruelty and violence, that we must help one another.

Otherwise, we will have broken faith with those who died and rendered their sacrifice as meaningless and pointless as possible.