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,
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.
The quote that stood out to me the most in this chapter is calling poems, the spoken word, "a vessel of consciousness." Language doesn't just capture the time but preserves the fleeting emotion, the knowledge, and the culture. This poem Dulce et Decorum Est is a poem written about the horrors of World War 1, but from the point of view of a soldier in the front lines. And it describes a singular moment that captures the moment but also his mind. It begins with the soldiers walking to their base. Every visual description of the solider's lameness is exhaustive. The sound of "Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!" is terrifying and panicked. It's brief and interrupted the visuals. This captures their surprise and the adrenaline they must have felt. The overwhelming sights and traumatizing sounds leads to the author's introspection, a peak into his mind, where he declares his realization - the culture that professes that a soldier's death for his country is honorable is a lie.