Dulce et Decorum Est

July 25, 2015 § Leave a comment

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 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.

by Wilfred Owen



July 19, 2015 § Leave a comment


Mortality by Christopher Hitchens

Some readers may have been offended and angered by Hitchens’ polemics against religion or Mother Teresa; others may have admired him for those very same polemics. You may have disagreed vehemently with him on his stance on Iraq; or chuckled at his witty response to the occasional imbecile in the audience. But Hitch was a voice, and a mind, to be reckoned with; as many of his debating partners found out. His essays and his diatribes were infused with wit and humour; delivered with panache; and supported by an unfailing memory.

His rogues’ gallery included the likes of George Galloway, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, god, and the aforementioned Mother Teresa. In his last published work, Mortality, he took on death. In particular, that malady that is so inextricably linked in our minds with death: cancer.

Hitch’s writing is witty, insightful, and regarding the superstitious beliefs that will forever exist when it comes to death, if not due to: scathing and vitriolic.

To the dumb question “Why me?” the cosmos barely bothers to return the reply: Why not?

In one way, I suppose, I have been “in denial” for some time, knowingly burning the candle at both ends and finding that it often gives a lovely light.

My so far uncancerous throat, let me rush to assure my Christian correspondent above, is not at all the only organ with which I have blasphemed.


July 12, 2015 § 2 Comments


Stalingrad by Antony Beevor

Justifiably heroic but not criminally homicidal.

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