The Linnet's Wings The Sorrow - Page 28

The Linnet´s Wings for bravery the previous year but he had developed a strong antipathy towards the conduct of the war. He had written to his commanding officer refusing to return to the front on behalf of all soldiers who were being sacrificed for what he believed were political rather than moral reasons. Sassoon became a poetic mentor to Owen placing great emphasis on “writing from experience” to create the utmost level of realism. In Owen's first drafts of his poem Dulce et decorum est Sassoon's influence can be seen. Dulce et decorum est refers to the inscription on the chapel wall of the Royal Military College, Sandhurst, Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori which is taken from the Roman poet Horace and means "it is sweet and honourable to die for one's country". Owen's poem describes the effects of a chlorine gas attack on a soldier who was unable reach his gas mask in time. The images and language are the antithesis of 'sweetness' and concepts of 'honour': 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 out 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. 28