Thursday, October 06, 2011

National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day today - as per the last couple of years practice, I'm going to reproduce a favourite poem of mine along the lines of this year's theme: 'games' ...

... although, it has to be admitted, I've found it harder this year to get to an appropriate poem!

So, here's my 2011 'theme-rationale': Jessie Pope wrote a poem entitled "Who's for the Game?", which arguably encouraged young men to join the 1st World War effort; here's Wilfred Owen's very famous (and most powerful) response, which in early draft was entitled ...

"Dulce Et Decorum Est - to Jessie Pope"

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.

(1917, published 1920)


Proof, if ever it were needed, that war is no game.

No comments: