If I should die, think only this of me:
That there's some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England.There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England's, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
Andthink, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
Anthem for doom youth
What passing-bells2 for these who die as cattle?
Only the monstrous anger of the guns. Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle
Can patter out3 their hasty orisons.4
No mockeries5 now for them; no prayers nor bells;
Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, –
The shrill, demented6 choirs of wailing shells;
And bugles7 calling for them from sad shires.8
What candles9 may be held to speed them all?
Not in the hands of boys but in their eyes
Shall shine the holyglimmers of goodbyes.
The pallor10 of girls' brows shall be their pall;
Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,
And each slow dusk11 a drawing-down of blinds.12
September - October, 1917
Notes for students
1 Anthem - perhaps best known in the expression "The National Anthem;" also, an important religious song (often expressing joy); here, perhaps, a solemn song ofcelebration
2 passing-bells - a bell tolled after someone's death to announce the death to the world
3 patter out - rapidly speak
4 orisons - prayers, here funeral prayers
5 mockeries - ceremonies which are insults. Here Owen seems to be suggesting that the Christian religion, with its loving God, can have nothing to do with the deaths of so many thousands of men
6 demented - raving mad
7 bugles - a bugle is played at military funerals (sounding the last post)
8 shires - English counties and countryside from which so many of the soldiers came
9 candles - church candles, or the candles lit in the room where a body lies in a coffin
10 pallor - paleness
11 dusk has a symbolic significance here
12 drawing-down of blinds - normally a preparation fornight, but also, here, the tradition of drawing the blinds in a room where a dead person lies, as a sign to the world and as a mark of respect. The coming of night is like the drawing down of blinds.
Dulce et decorum est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares2 we turned our backs
And towardsour distant rest3 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 hoots4
Of tired, outstripped5 Five-Nines6 that dropped behind.
Gas!7 Gas! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling,
Fitting the clumsy helmets8 just in time;
But someone still was yelling out and stumbling, And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime9 . . .
Dim, through the misty panes10 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,11 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,
Hishanging 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 cud12
Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,
My friend, you would not tell with such high zest13
To children ardent14 for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.15