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.
This poem is extremely effective in the sense that it reflects the devastation and displays the impact of the lethal gas in the first world war. It gives a perspective of how the gas impacted the men on the front line, through the eyes of someone from the front line. Not only that but it shows how the individuals were affected after inhaling the gas. This helps us with our understanding of the impact that weapons had on the soldiers during ww1, which was necessary in order to help answer the research question of the unit.
Not only the content of the poem but the way it was written, helps the viewer visualise the devastation that the gas has upon the officers on the front line who were exposed to it. One of the most impactful literary devices that is in the poem is simile, en example of this being used effectively is in regards to the lines “His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin” and also “Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud”. These lines are used to describe the affects that the poisonous gas had upon the men after they had inhaled it and what their body language and effect of it was. These lines help the viewers paint a picture in their heads very well, showcasing how devastating the lethal gas was during the first world war.
Another part of the poem that I find extremely effective is the line “Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!”. The reason why I find it so affective and powerful is because it really sets the context that this is happing from a first person perspective and that what is spoken in the poem is really happing in the eyes of the soldiers. Also the fact that those words contain the gas weapon in words, it allows for people that do not know about the weapon to have more context about what is going .