Wilfred Owen
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 for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori


Wilfred Owen, 1893 - 1918.

Read more about the Poetry Society's programme of events, commissions and resources marking the centenary of the First World War, 1914-1918.

Poetry Society Events

The Unblinking 'I' - Poetry Workshop ...
Canal Laureate performance, Olympic Park
1-1 Poetry Surgery, London
Stanza Bonanza: Brondesbury v Southwark
Poetry @ 3 (open mic), Poetry Cafe

Events Calendar>

First World War Centenary

The Poetry Society's programme of events, resources and collaborations marking the centenary of the First World War. Plus a small selection of First World War poetry.

Café current show

If I Lay on my Back I Saw Nothing but Naked Women, monoprints by Mark Andrew Webber inspired by Jacqueline Saphra's poems, 6 Oct - 29 Nov.

Canal Laureate News

Visit the Waterlines website

Four canal-themed filmpoems by poets Jo Bell, Liz Berry, Ian Duhig and Ian McMillan, produced by Alastair Cook and in partnership with The Canal & River Trust


... latest poetry news ...

Pascale Petit, Wendy Cope and Lachlan Mackinnon appointed as Gladstone's Library writers in residence

Michael Marks Award winners: Laura Scott for best poetry pamphlet and Rack Press win publisher award 

We are sad to learn of the death of Jon Stallworthy, one of the country's most admired poets

Louise Glück wins National Book Award for 'Faithful and Virtuous Night'

Colette Bryce, Jonathan Edwards, Lavinia Greenlaw & Kei Miller on Costa Poetry shortlist

Clean sweep for PS Members in Torbay Poetry Competition. Carole Bromley wins, Char March 2nd, Ann Pilling and Paul Stephenson joint 3rd. PS Members Andrew Geary, Josh Ekroy, Denise McSheehy and Katherine Gallagher highly commended

Lost Dylan Thomas notebook may cast light on most impenetrable poems

Alexander Hutchison wins Saltire Scottish Poetry Book of the Year, Niall Campbell wins First Book of the Year award

Helen Mort wins the Fenton Aldeburgh First Collection Prize

PS Member Jonathan Edwards wins Ledbury Poetry Prize. Jacqueline Saphra 2nd, Laura Seymour 3rd. Foyle Young Poet Isla Anderson wins Young Person Prize

Tragic death of poet Anne Cluysenaar

Ian Galbraith wins Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation 

Galway Kinnell, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner, dies aged 87

Fran Lock wins Ambit Competition. PS Members Geraldine Clarkson & Catherine Ayres 2nd and 3rd

Poetry Society member Mona Arshi is joint winner of the Manchester Poetry Prize with Michael Hudson

Bridport Poetry Prize won by Poetry Society member Natalya Anderson. Tori Sharpe and Jo Bell 2nd & 3rd. PS Members Alan Buckley, Florence Cox, Jane Dunn, Val Ormrod among highly commended

TS Eliot shortlist: Fiona Benson, John Burnside, Louise Glück, David Harsent, Michael Longley, Ruth Padel, Pascale Petit, Kevin Powers, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Hugo Williams

PS member Rachel Davies wins Wells Festival of Literature Poetry Prize & PS member Carole Bromley 2nd

PS Member Pru Kitching is joint winner of Carers UK Poetry Comp, with Beth McDonough. PS Members Valerie Fry and Marilyn Hammick among the runners-up 

John Moat, co-founder of Arvon, dies

Aisling Fahey appointed as new Young Poet Laureate for London

Kei Miller wins Forward Prize for best collection, Liz Berry wins best first collection prize, Steven Santus wins best single poem prize

Dannie Abse, Welsh poet and author, dies aged 91

PS Member Polly Atkin wins Wigtown Poetry Prize

US National Book Award longlist announced

NEXT GENERATION of poets announced by Poetry Book Society: Tara Bergin, Emily Berry, Sean Borodale, Adam Foulds, Annie Freud, Alan Gillis, Rebecca Goss, Jen Hadfield, Emma Jones, Luke Kennard, Melissa Lee-Houghton, Hannah Lowe, Kei Miller, Helen Mort, Daljit Nagra, Heather Phillipson, Kate Tempest, Mark Waldron, Sam Willetts, Jane Yeh

Young Poet Laureate for London shortlist includes PS Members Clare Mulley and Ella Frears, SLAMbassador Aisling Fahey, plus Laurie Bolger, Rachel Long, and Deborah Stevenson

PS Members Anne Stewart & Dorothy Yamamoto 1st and 2nd in Poetry on the Lake open category. Virginia Astley wins sonnet category

Winifred Dawson obituary - Librarian who inspired five of Larkin's poems

Desmond O'Grady, 'a great citizen of world poetry', dies

Robert Hass wins $100k lifetime achievement award

Wasafiri poetry shortlist includes PS members, Ann Kaiser, Mark Fiddes, and Pnina Shinebourne

William Bedford wins The London Magazine's Poetry Competition

William Bedford wins Roundel Poetry Competition. PS member Geraldine Paine 2nd, John Arnold 3rd

New Seamus Heaney anthology includes unseen poem In Time, written for his granddaughter

Simin Behbahani, 'Iran's most famous poet', has died at the age of 87

Niall Campbell wins £20k Edwin Morgan prize

It's 1.2.3 for PS members Maria Jastrzᶒbska, Gill Learner & Elsa Fischer in Grey Hen Poetry Prize

Second Light Poetry Comp: Kate Foley (1st, long poem), Margaret Beston (1st, short poem), Pippa Little (2nd) & Ann Alexander (3rd)

Poet Roddy Lumsden and crime-writer Val McDermid win the Round Britain Quiz