Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen, poète anglais mort une semaine avant l'armistice de 1918, écrit ce terrible texte sur ce qu'est réellement la guerre :



Mon ami, tu ne diras plus avec une telle ardeur aux enfants qui brûlent d'affronter la gloire qu'il est doux et glorieux de mourir pour la patrie.


Xavier Hanotte, dans Manière noire, cite Wilfred Owen et en fait un fil conducteur de son roman policier, noir et bruxellois. Il y revit l'ultime attaque et la mort du soldat. Mais un autre récit s'intercale aussi dans ce roman prétexte, c'est l'attentat mené contre Heydrich en mai 1942 à Prague, par Jozef Gabčík et Jan Kubiš.


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.