Men Marched Asleep

  • Wilfred Owen installation
  • Wilfred Owen installation

About This Project

The Men Marched Asleep is an installation by Robyn Woolston and takes its inspiration from the fifth link of Wilfred Owen’s poem Dulce et Decorum Est.

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 gas-shells dropping softly 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.

The poem is a deeply evocative description of men exhausted by battle but continuing on. It conveys a journey- narrative that is saturated by time and toil, regimental history and personal loss during the Great War. This sense of movement is conveyed in parallel with the installation itself as a series of historical objects, personal photographs, and artworks created but the local community, transport the visitor through an immersive and evocative environment peppered with lines taken from the poetry of Wilfred Owen.

Please note that the galleries are open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, but staff shortages may necessitate early closure of some rooms at the end of the day.

Robyn Woolston‘s installation exhibition is part of the wider commemoration about Wilfred Owen, to find out more, please read about her initial plans for the project in News  on the Wilfred Owen Commemorations dedicated website. Consider joining our supporting charity, Williamson and Priory friends.

Please note that the galleries are open from Wednesday to Sunday from 10am to 5pm, but staff shortages may necessitate early closure of some rooms at the end of the day.

Date
Category
Exhibitions, What’s On
Tags
Installation, Robyn Woolston, Wilfred Owen, World War One