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The Great Lie

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Below is the poem entitled The Great Lie which was written by poet Brian Terry. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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The Great Lie

The Great Lie

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria mori
I believed that once
I laughed and chatted to my friend
As we boarded the troopship
To take us to the far side of the world

Never been abroad before
We were excited in Colombo
Marvelled at Singapore
Fell in love with Hong Kong
Then north to the fighting

My task, set up and operate a field x-ray department
Wherever I look there's mud
Ubiquitous mud
Even the women, four foot by foot with a ‘tach, smell of mud
Bill said 'but that one's not bad'
They shipped him out, he's gone mad

It all seems quiet
Is there a war?
One night we hear the thunder
Of heavy guns

Then only in a few hours
They come like a flood
The laughing smiling young boys I knew
Now bloody, broken dying old men

What is so bloody sweet?
This is not our home

Days and days went by
With no respite
Amoebic dysentery struck
A major battle raged
My patients come
Like a tide
A remorseless powerful tide
With broken limbs to be X-rayed

 So I, with *****running down my legs
Stood there without protection and X-rayed them one by one

How bloody sweet indeed
I had never seen Death before
A lull, and they hose me down and my floor
But still they come

I mourn the loss of so many

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria mori
Sweet my arse
I curse the cynic who coined this lie
Quintus Horatius Flaccus should have been strangled at birth

And still they come
Hoping for succour
Hoping for relief from pain
Some times only the peace of death is theirs
Some welcome him; you can see it in their eyes
We are not uplifted but coarsened
A callous round our hearts protects us
And still they come

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria mori

O Christ the Guns are louder
Are they nearer?
Dysentery cured
Still I *****myself
This time in fear
Only discipline holds me to my post

And still they come

Dulce et Decorum est pro Patria mori
It's in Latin so it must be true?

And still they come

O God will it never end
I'm tired but have no backup
I'm on my own and near despair

Then the tide of battle changed
The flood drops to a trickle
I could sleep now.
And she is not bad, warm and gentle
Who cares about a little 'tach
And she's brought me tea
I will sleep now
Until it starts again

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  1. Date: 10/22/2012 2:44:00 PM
    Very very nice description of the horrifying nonsence of war... Terry