Results 1 to 6 of 6

Thread: Two war poems

  1. #1
    Walt Whitman is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Italian
      • Home Country:
      • Italy
      • Current Location:
      • Italy
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    125
    Post Thanks / Like

    Red face Two war poems

    English teacher

    I’m fully aware it’s an oversimplification of two splendid poems, but I’d like my 13-year-old kids to ponder over the horrors of war. Could you please have a look at them? I need your input about my choice of language and vocabulary.


    We look like old beggars under sacks,
    We cough and curse as we slowly walk
    Through the thick mud towards our distant camp.
    We march asleep with shoes of blood,
    Drunk with fatigue, deaf even to the loud sounds
    Of gas shells falling behind us.

    Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!
    We put on our heavy gas masks just in time;
    But someone is shouting and screaming,
    moving arms and legs desperately like a man in fire or lime…
    I see him drowning through his gas mask
    And thick green light, as under a green sea.

    I see his white eyes rolling around in great pain,
    I see the blood coming out from his lungs
    full of foam and destroyed by the gas.

    In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,
    He rushes towards me, guttering, choking, drowning.
    My friend, do not go on telling children
    The old lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.
    (Wilfred Owen, “Dulce at decorum est”)


    *************

    I knew a simple soldier boy;
    He smiled at life full of joy,
    Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
    And sang early with the lark.

    In winter trenches, depressed and gloomy,
    With exploding bombs and lice and lack of rum,
    He put a bullet through his brain.
    No one spoke of him again.

    You happy crowds with eyes full of passion,
    You cheer when soldier boys march by;
    Silently get home because you do not know
    The hell where youth and laughter go.
    (Siegfried Sassoon, “Suicide in the Trenches”)

    Thanks a lot.
    WW

  2. #2
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,391
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Two war poems

    They both work very well for me- a job well done. I had to go back to the originals to see what you'd done.

  3. #3
    Walt Whitman is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Italian
      • Home Country:
      • Italy
      • Current Location:
      • Italy
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    125
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Two war poems

    Thank you Tdol.
    Here are the originals.

    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.
    (Wilfred Owen, “Dulce at decorum est”)



    I knew a simple soldier boy
    Who grinned at life in empty joy,
    Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
    And whistled early with the lark.


    In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
    With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
    He put a bullet through his brain.
    No one spoke of him again.


    You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
    Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
    Sneak home and pray you'll never know
    The hell where youth and laughter go.

    (Siegfried Sassoon, “Suicide in the Trenches”)

    Any suggestions to improve the two poems (easy language and vocabulary)?

  4. #4
    Tdol is offline Editor, UsingEnglish.com
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • Philippines
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    Posts
    43,391
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Two war poems

    I see him drowning through his gas mask
    Should this be my gas mask? Isn't it the poet seeing the man through the panes of his mask?

  5. #5
    emsr2d2's Avatar
    emsr2d2 is offline Moderator
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Posts
    23,598
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Two war poems

    Yes, it should be "my gas mask". The reason the other soldier is dying is that he didn't get his mask on.

    I studied Dulce et Decorum Est ​for 'O' Level English. It's one of the reasons I've been completely anti-war for over 30 years. I think everyone should read/memorise/study it, regardless of what language they speak.
    Remember - correct capitalisation, punctuation and spacing make posts much easier to read.

  6. #6
    Walt Whitman is offline Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • Italian
      • Home Country:
      • Italy
      • Current Location:
      • Italy
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Posts
    125
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Two war poems

    Yes, it is the poet, Tdol and emsr2d2, you’re right.
    In ll. 9-14 two individuals emerge from the group: the poet and a soldier who does not manage to wear the gas mask in time so that he falls down. The poet compares the gas cloud to a green sea where the poor soldier drowns. Exploding gas-shells produced a green light. And he sees the soldier dying through the panes of his (the poet’s) mask.

    I too think everyone should ponder over this masterpiece “regardless of what language they speak” and of what age they are. I bet my 13-year-old kids are going to love it.

    Isn’t it better to say,

    “I see him downing through my gas mask
    and the thick green light, as if I [or, perhaps even better, "we", i.e. all of the soldiers] were under a green sea”

    instead of

    “I see him drowning through my gas mask
    And thick green light, as under a green sea”?


    Thanks a lot.
    WW
    Last edited by Walt Whitman; 23-Jul-2014 at 20:56.

Similar Threads

  1. Replies: 3
    Last Post: 17-Mar-2011, 10:22
  2. poems
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 29-May-2008, 15:39
  3. Poems
    By Pally in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 16-Nov-2007, 05:54
  4. Help....Poems....Help
    By Laura1912 in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 30-Aug-2005, 20:25

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •