The Old Lie

New paper banner as an altar frontal at the Met Cathedral, Liverpool, this morning with the words dulce et decorum est pro patria mori. Does anyone, since local lad Wilfred Owen nailed “the old lie”, still really think it is sweet and right to be conscripted to die for one’s country? No problem honouring the fallen, especially those who volunteered to fight tyranny or to liberate others, but “sweet and right” as nationalism? Pu-lease.

“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.”