Mary's Wedding
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Mary's Wedding
 
Pacific Opera Victoria: Mary's Wedding Memory Project
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I've been assisting in the touring production of Mary's Wedding and looking for inspiration and information about this period and the war. As I didn't know much about chlorine gas or the effects that it had, my husband sent me this poem describing the horrors of what it was to be in the field when the shells were dropping and the gas rolling towards them.

The translation of the Latin in the title and final line of the poem is "It is sweet and right...to die for your country." Many men went to war with the idea that this was true, After time in battle, the poet believes this to be a lie.

This poem has greatly influenced the way I now look at the scene within the context of the show, and I have even greater respect for the sacrifice our veterans gave for us. 

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.

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

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