Category Archives: From the Calendar

In Memorandum: A Poem of Sacrifice— ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’

By Iain Martin

My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity. –Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen
Wilfred Owen

It seems appropriate as we consider the sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed services on Veterans Day to remember a famous poem written by Wilfred Owen, a British officer killed in France during the final week of the First World War. Owen was among the thousands of well educated young men who volunteered to serve for ‘King and country.’ Arriving on the western front in the early summer of 1916, he was overwhelmed by the horrors of trench warfare. Appalled by the endless slaughter and nightmarish conditions in which the men existed, Owen set about opposing the war through his aspiring poetry.

Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Sassoon

In early 1917 Owen was diagnosed with ‘shell shock’ (what we would now define as combat fatigue) and was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh. There he met the noted British poet and fellow infantry officer Siegfried Sassoon. Owen gained not only a close friend but a mentor for his writing. It was at Craiglockhart that Owen first drafted what was to become his most famous work, Dulce et Decorum Est.

The first words of this Latin saying, Dulce et Decorum Est, are taken from an ode by Horace. The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean, “It is sweet and right.” The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori–it is sweet and right to die for your country. This was the kind of classical literature heaped upon generations of young schoolboys before the war, then fighting and dying by the countless thousands on the battlefields across France. Owen’s poem, perhaps the finest of its kind, reminds us the true cost of any war.

Continue reading In Memorandum: A Poem of Sacrifice— ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’

Advertisements

Talk/Write Like a Detective Novel Day

By Charles Constant

I have loved detective fiction since I was first introduced to it during high school in a selective course named “Detective and Science Fiction.” Being high school, we read stories about the more intellectual detectives such as Sherlock Holmes, C. Auguste Dupin, and Lord Peter Wimsey. It wasn’t until later when, now hooked on the genre, I discovered Carroll John Daly, Dashiell Hammett, and Raymond Chandler, who wrote the grittier, more physical, and, to me, more personal hard-boiled style of detective fiction.

Who wouldn’t want to be able to assemble the pieces of a mystery the way Miss Marple could or be able to easily see things others didn’t, like Sherlock Holmes? Of course, that would require having a different sort of brain than the one I was given. However, as a teenager, I could see myself perhaps not as a “tough guy” but at least as a tougher version of me. A guy who didn’t let things affect him the way they affected other people; a guy who always had a snappy comeback or a cleverly cool response to an insult, and in high school, such abilities would come in handy.
The idea for Talk/Write Like a Detective Novel Day came to me after I watched the rise in popularity of Talk Like a Pirate Day. Talk Like a Pirate Day was fun, but after saying “Arrrr” a few times or telling the waiter serving your breakfast, “I be wantin’ some coffee, Matey,” there wasn’t much to it . . . other than having to explain yourself.

Raymond Chandler
Raymond Chandler

Continue reading Talk/Write Like a Detective Novel Day