Sunday 22 April 2018

We must learn to slay a few of our myths

It's our duty to shape the future by challenging ideas concerning identity, writes Trevor Ringland

Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et decorum est'
Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et decorum est'
CONFLICTS: First World War poet Wilfred Owen used vivid imagery evoking the horrors of the conflict when he wrote 'Dulce et decorum est' during a recovery period in hospital

Trevor Ringland

The First World War poet, Wilfred Owen, wrote "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori", or "How sweet and fitting it is to die for one's country", while he was recovering from shell-shock at Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh. The poem's vivid imagery evokes the brutal realities of conflict and its impact on ordinary soldiers.

It provided the generations of children who first read it at school a better understanding that war should always be a last resort. Owen's words also expose how dangerous it can be to allow patriotism to cloud our vision of the consequences of conflict.

Craiglockhart is now part of Napier University in Edinburgh, which my son attends. Part of the building is preserved to commemorate its connection with war poets like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. It's a good place to reflect upon how losing a loved one before their time can affect a family.

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