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Dulce et Decorum Est uses gruesome imagery to narrate the horrors of a gas attack.
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French troops advancing under fire during World War I
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 hootsOf tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.
Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumblingFitting the clumsy helmets just in time,But someone still was yelling out and stumblingAnd 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 sightHe plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.
If in some smothering dreams, you too could paceBehind 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 lungsObscene as cancer, bitter as the cudOf vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,My friend, you would not tell with such high zestTo children ardent for some desperate glory,The old Lie: Dulce et decorum estPro patria mori.