In Flanders Fields

by John McCrae, May 1915


In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep,
though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.




Wilfred Owen (1893 - 1918)

Apologia pro Poemate Meo


I, too, saw God through mud, -
       The mud that cracked on cheeks when wretches smiled.
       War brought more glory to their eyes than blood,
       And gave their laughs more glee than shakes a child.

Merry it was to laugh there -
       Where death becomes absurd and life absurder.
       For power was on us as we slashed bones bare
       Not to feel sickness or remorse of murder.

I, too, have dropped off Fear -
       Behind the barrage, dead as my platoon,
       And sailed my spirit surging light and clear
       Past the entanglement where hopes lay strewn;

And witnessed exultation -
       Faces that used to curse me, scowl for scowl,
       Shine and lift up with passion of oblation,
       Seraphic for an hour; though they were foul.

I have made fellowships -
       Untold of happy lovers in old song.
       For love is not the binding of fair lips
       With the soft silk of eyes that look and long,

By Joy, whose ribbon slips, -
       But wound with war's hard wire whose stakes are strong;
       Bound with the bandage of the arm that drips;
       Knit in the webbing of the rifle-thong.

I have perceived much beauty
       In the hoarse oaths that kept our courage straight;
       Heard music in the silentness of duty;
       Found peace where shell-storms spouted reddest spate.

Nevertheless, except you share
       With them in hell the sorrowful dark of hell,
       Whose world is but the trembling of a flare
       And heaven but as the highway for a shell,

You shall not hear their mirth:
       You shall not come to think them well content
       By any jest of mine. These men are worth
       Your tears. You are not worth their merriment.





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 disappointed shells 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 floundering 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.





World War One Poetry

Mr. Steel


"In Flanders Fields"


1. Map the rhyming scheme for McCrae's poem.





2. Who are the speakers in this poem?





3. What do the speakers ask the listeners to do in this poem?





4. With what is war compared in this poem?





5. Name three poetic devices found in this poem, and provide an example for each.






6. How is death portrayed in McCrae's poem?






7. How does McCrae's poetic vision of war differ from that of Owen?






8. Compare McCrae's poem with those of Owen in terms of its violence, and its distance from war. What might be the reason for this difference?







"Dulce et Decorum Est"


1. Map the rhyming scheme for Owen's poem.





2. How is war described in this poem?






3. What particular event is vividly described by the poet?





4. Explain the irony of the title of the poem in light of its contents.





5. Name three poetic devices found in this poem, and provide an example for each.






6. Why do you think the violence of the battlefield is described in terms of ecstasy and drunkenness?



"Apologia pro Poemate Meo"


1. What is the rhyming scheme for this poem?






2. What does Owen claim to have seen in the battlefield? Why?








3. What prompts Owen to laugh during war?






4. What sorts of feelings does Owen recount from the experience of battle?







5. Name three poetic devices found in this poem, and provide an example for each.








6. What does Owen say happens to violent men at the front?







7. What kind of love does Owen find at the front?







8. Explain how Owen finds beauty in war.








9. How can we understand Owen's admission that there is beauty in war in light of his poem about the horror and ugliness of war, "Dulce et Decorum Est"?










10. Explain the juxtaposition of music with silence, of peace with "shell storms." What is Owen trying to say about warfare?










11. Why does Owen scoff at those who have not been to war?