Poems and Politics: 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.

This poem is posted in response to the bombardment of adverts on S4C promoting the benefits of a career in the armed forces. The MoD claims that it doesn't target any particular section of society for enlistment as part of a political process. But S4C seems to be the only main channel on which recruitment adds appear in every single brake. Sometimes we have two, during Pobl y Cwm you can almost guarantee an ad from both army and navy.

If this isn't targeting a section of society for the political purpose of Britifying it, I would like to hear the MoD's alternative explaination.


  1. Welcome, MOF - just saw it and glad to see Bloghounds is doing well too.

  2. I think you're reading too much into it. They just need cannon fodder and they don’t care where they get it.

  3. It may be worth asking them, I would love to see the response!

    I have however seen adverts on other channels.

  4. What a load of rubbish!

    You attack the modern Army by referring to a poem that is over 90 years old.

    I know that you claim to be an Old Fart, but even you must be young enough to know that the modern army and modern warfare is nothing like what First World War soldiers went through.

    There are no trenches in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    What do you know about the Armed Services, anyway - you are a member of a Nazi loving pacifist traitors party.

    Shits like you should be shot at dawn.

  5. Shits like you should be shot at dawn.

    Ha ha! Great idea, hey MOF, can I have the honour of doing it?!

    anon - some people don't like the idea of sending our kids to fight pointless and illegal wars - get over it!

  6. A fine poem, and one that should be posted in every recruitment centre.
    What about the statistics of those who complete a term of service for "The armed forces".
    Why not include health warnings, and tell the would-be recruits about the death and injury rates or the incidence of alcoholism, depression and suicide?
    Centuries ago, the following was written;
    Niccolo Machiavelli -
    - War is a profession by which a man cannot live honorably; an employment by which the soldier, if he would reap any profit, is obliged to be false, rapacious, and cruel.
    Soldiers enforce political will at gunpoint, their purpose is not always to defend the people, more often than not, as history shows us, they serve to further the ambitions of tyrants.

    Then there is the matter of the behaviour of the british army here in Wales in the early twentieth century.
    Striking workers were shot dead, at Tonypandy and Llanelli..... strangely enough, within our schools no mention is made of this outrage, perhaps an independent Wales will forbid military recruitment by foreign states...

  7. who do you think liberated the death camps of Belsen and Dachau ... a bunch of bible thumpers.

  8. Well done for posting the Owen poem with reference to this. I believe that many young people just don't know what they are getting into.

  9. Thanks to the members of Bloghounds for their responses and support. I have been away for the past week and a half, so I haven't had a chance to properly activate my Bloghounds membership yet. I will do so over the weekend.

    It is interesting that all of the responses in favour of the armed forces have come from anonymous commentators - a few years ago those who agreed with my post would have felt the need to comment anonymously and those who are proud to support the armed forces would have done so with their names in big bold letters. I suppose it is a sign of how low the Labour government has dragged the reputation of the armed forces.

    I am not an anti militarist, I have spent most of my career nursing former soldiers - a practical way of giving them support, albeit one which has left me rather cynical of the "glory" bit of their work.

    If I am to be shot can I please be shot at noon rather than at dawn? I fancy a last lie-in before the end!

  10. god, I hate welsh nationalists