Tuesday, August 16, 2016

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.
by Wilfred Owen
Thought to have been written between 8 October 1917 and March, 1918

The Walking Wounded

When people talk about 'the walking wounded', they normally think of soldiers returning from a battlefield.  I usually think of a war poem I studied in university... Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce Et Decorum Est'.  Oh man, that was such a gory poem.  I could actually hear the sounds of the wounds... viscera spilling out into the open where it was never meant to be...

But today I am thinking of different 'walking wounded'.  In my many years of navigating the morass of relationships, I have been continually astonished by the level of woundedness I have encountered in people I meet.  They walk upright and smile when they would and sleep when they should... but they carry such deep injuries within.  I almost wish they had physical injuries instead... at least these injuries would be exposed to the air and dried sooner or later.  But emotional and mental injuries can live forever within psyches.  Like an abscess, they sit inert but causing pain.  And these wounds continue poisoning the people... causing new friendships to be ruined and new hopes to be dashed.

Sometimes I feel drawn to these people... and it is almost as if I can hear them crying out for help.  The problem is when I reach out to help (even though I have no idea what to do), their automatic reaction is to snarl back and flash their claws.  And what makes things sadder is that they may even hurt their loved ones, causing fresh wounds themselves.