At school, I didn’t just learn about the Great War in history lessons – it was a big feature in English too. I remember finding it amazing that out of such horror there could come such thought provoking poetry, so beautifully crafted. Poetry was never really my thing; I find it difficult to write and sometimes difficult to read. But I persevered, and war poetry in particular is something I particularly remember, which could be true of a lot of people, as we often hear such poems being read at this time of year and so recall the ones we remember the most.
The following is a verse that has always stuck with me. I think it’s because the writer speaks of how it would be if the reader could have seen the things that he had seen, and experienced the things he had experienced. The skilful way he has written this poem instantly brings such images to the mind of the reader, and makes you feel even more lucky that this is the closest you will get to the horrors of that war.
Wilfred Owen survived the war up until its final days, dying only seven days before Armistice Day aged 25.
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.
Dulce et Decorum Est