If I should die, think only this of me:
That there’s some corner of a foreign field
That is for ever England. There shall be
In that rich earth a richer dust concealed;
A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware,
Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam,
A body of England’s, breathing English air,
Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.
And think, this heart, all evil shed away,
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less
Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England given;
Her sights and sounds; dreams happy as her day;
And laughter, learnt of friends; and gentleness,
In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.
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 tired, outstripped Five-Nines 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 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(14) for some desperate glory,
The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est
Pro patria mori.
8 October 1917 – March, 1918
Break of Day in the Trenches
The darkness crumbles away
It is the same old druid Time as ever,
Only a live thing leaps my hand,
A queer sardonic rat,
As I pull the parapet’s poppy
To stick behind my ear.
Droll rat, they would shoot you if they knew
Your cosmopolitan sympathies,
Now you have touched this English hand
You will do the same to a German
Soon, no doubt, if it be your pleasure
To cross the sleeping green between.
It seems you inwardly grin as you pass
Strong eyes, fine limbs, haughty athletes,
Less chanced than you for life,
Bonds to the whims of murder,
Sprawled in the bowels of the earth,
The torn fields of France.
What do you see in our eyes
At the shrieking iron and flame
Hurled through still heavens?
What quaver -what heart aghast?
Poppies whose roots are in men’s veins
Drop, and are ever dropping;
But mine in my ear is safe,
Just a little white with the dust.Isaac Rosenberg
It was a warm autumn eve as the sun slowly set. Although cloudless and calm, it was still not dark enough to see the twinkling stars. Ensconced in his chair by the window, he stared. He stared at the blank screen, and stared. If only this was a Stairmaster he would be in better shape.
“I have nothing, there’s nothing. I’m stuck – stuck – stuck.”
“It happens, you’ll get through it” quipped Red as she plunked down on the couch. “I’m having some friends come over later tonight, I hope it doesn’t bother you.”
“It’s not like they’re going to interrupt my writing? Is it?”, as he bit down on the cigarette holder. “As long as it’s not that imbecilic pirate.”
“No it’s my reading group. I don’t believe he is the type interested in 20th century literature.” Red said as she un-plunked herself and proceeded straightening the room.
“And which book is it?”, he asked still staring at the screen, incompetently pretending interest.
“The Stranger, by Albert Camus,” Red replied while setting out the dishes and inspecting the wine glasses for bits of lint and water spots.
“Ah, 20th century pretentious existential angst.”
Red coyly looked towards him saying, “Feel free to join us, if you wish.”
“I will continue my solitary Sisyphean task; if I need an interruption, I will join your absurd parlay regarding the termination of an Algerian on the sands of the Mediterranean.”, eyes still fixed on the screen.
“Spoiler alert! Now you’ve ruined it by giving away the ending.”, Red quipped sardonically.
“Well then, I guess you should call them and tell them to forget it.”
“I might consider that if they weren’t already here” gleefully saying that she processed towards the door just before the knocking.
‘Suddenly-all hell broke loose!’ he typed onto the screen.