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Wilfred Owen, "Gas"

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World War One, Wilfred Owen  Poems from World War One

 

In an effort to break the stalemate on the battlefields of World War I, the Germans introduced a new and terrifying weapon. Gas!

There was Yellow Gas, Green Gas and ultimately the grand daddy to napalm, Mustard Gas.

The use of gas did nothing to break the stalemate, it only raised the level of suffering.

Wilfred Owen was an Englishmen who served the length of the war and witnessed the horrible effects of gas.

Owen wrote about his experiences and they have become some of the finest literature available regarding World War One.

 

Wilfred Owen

Dulce 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 disappointed shells that dropped 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 floundering 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.*

 

 

*It is sweet and noble to die for one's country

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