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Poem: Dulce et Decorum Est
A World War I poem that asks if it is truly sweet and fitting to die for one's country.
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(Wilfred Owen challenges our thinking about whether it is really so sweet and fitting to die for one's country)
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Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
It is sweet and proper (fitting or honorable) to die for one's country.

A carving in stone over the entrance to the Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia; based on a writing by Horace in his Odes, III, ii, 13.

Dulce et Decorum Est

—by Wilfred Owen, 1893-1918

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 gurgling from the froth-corrupted lungs
Bitten 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 (sweet)? Decorum (honorable)? Wilfred Owen himself died fighting for England in World War I, just one week before the armistice was signed and the war ended.