Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Sic Vita - Henry King

Like to the falling of a star,
Or as the flights of eagles are,
Or like the fresh spring's gaudy hue,
Or silver drops of morning dew,
Or like a wind that chafes the flood,
Or bubbles which on water stood:
Even such is man, whose borrowed light
Is straight called in, and paid to night.

The wind blows out, the bubbles dies,
The spring entombed in autumn lies,
The dew dries up, the star is shot,
The flight is past, and man forgot.

The omnipresent repetition of the first stanza of the poem serves to really highlight the incredible variety that life encompasses.  It's an effective strategy for emphasizing diversity, though in this case, I find it grows somewhat wearisome and tedious.  The second, shorter stanza, avoids this problem entirely, due largely to its brevity.

I like the concept of man being a "borrowed light."  We are highly emphemeral, though in our time, we burn brightly, and for a time, light the world.  It's somehow reassuring to know that we do burn brightly, even if we are, in time, forgot.  We do grow old and pass, but in that short span, we live every facet of life.  It's a wonderful diversity.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Light and Gold - Edward Esch

warm and heavy
as pure gold,
and the angels sing softly
to the newborn babe.

Some of you readers made be more familiar with this poem in a Latin setting, as used by composer Eric Whitacre, as his "Lux Aurumque."  But before I embed a wonderful video of it being performed, I'm going to talk a bit about the lovely images and presentation of the poem.  Lovely as it is, I don't want the music to inform your opinion of the text just yet.

My favorite aspect of the poem would have to be the seeming disconnect between the poem's first three lines and its last two.  The lack of connecting phrases makes the contrast more natural, as it is free from the awkward stranglehold of prepositional phrases.  The light connects directly into the image of the babe, just as one's eyes would follow a beam of light down to its resting place.

I also really like the way light is equated with sound in the poem.  The light, which is warm and rare, beautiful as gold, is one of two sensory images provided; the other is the angels singing.  Sound and light are equated, and the result is an all-enveloping gold, which, since it is for the Christ child, is meant as an image of universal love.  The light is the sound is the love is the poem.  It's a wonderful image, and one that surpasses the limits of individual senses.

As promised, here is the Eric Whitacre setting,"Lux Aurumque."  It's a surpassingly beautiful setting which I feel captures that feeling of light, and it does so, appropriately, through sound, warm and heavy as pure gold.

Immersion - Taylor Blackwell

I listen to birds.
They know what theye're doing.
They fly without appartent aim
And talk to people, learning, kn0wing.
They don't get it wrong.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Late Night Lung Power - Taylor Blackwell

I'm done talking,
but he said it's gonna be a footnote in history
regardless of what happens
you brought it up

im assuming you had someone in mind
who me?
i didnt say that

neither did i?
he did?
now that you told me,
you shouldnt include any of them

Hurricane - Chris Hart

A locked dorm
-For our own safety-
Is where we will weather
Whether we want to or not.

The winds of change blow
And whip outside my window,
Reminding me that this year
Will be like no other before it.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Sores - Chris Hart

The sores on the bottom of my feet,
Burst from long hours of learning
Are good reminders that nothing
Worth doing is easy.

As I bandage a blister,
I remind myself that for many,
These are not marks of learning,
Or signs of satisfaction,
But the daily scars of a life hard lived.

Satisfaction - Chris Hart

the wonderful weight
of an eyelid long overdue
slamming its foot down
declaring sleep

the sink of a head
into a pillow
beckoning sleep
immediate and deep

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Computation - John Donne

For the first twenty years, since yesterday,
I scarce believed thou couldst be gone away;
For forty more, I fed on favors past,
And forty on hopes - that thou wouldst, they might, last.
Tears drowned one hundred, and sighs blew out two;
A thousand, I did neither think, nor do,
Or not divide, all being one thought of you;
Or in a thousand more forgot that too.
Yet call not this long life, but think that I
Am, by being dead, immortal.  Can ghosts die?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Packing - Chris Hart

Every square inch matters
when packing.
Packing in the hopes,
the fears, the clothes,
the aspirations
of another year.

Unpack them
into something brilliant.
And when finished,
pack up your bags once more,
filling them with the
realizations of your dreams.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Fifth Grade Autobiography - Rita Dove

I was four in this photograph fishing
with my grandparents at a lake in Michigan.
My brother squats in poison ivy.
His Davy Crockett cap
sits squared on his head so the raccoon tail
flounces down the back of his sailor suit.

My grandfather sits to the far right
in a folding chair,
and I know his left hand is on
the tobacco in his pants pocket
because I used to wrap it for him
every Christmas.  Grandmother's hips
bulge from the brush, she's leaning
into the ice chest, sun through the trees
printing her dress with soft
luminous paws.

I am staring jealously at my brother;
the day before he rode his first horse, alone.
I was strapped in a basket
behind my grandfather.
He smelled of lemons.  He's died -

but I remember his hands.

I mostly like this poem for the very last line.  Hands are fascinating, and every person's hand tells the story of their life.  Looking at my hands, I can see some calluses and toughened skin in the spots where my trombone touches my hand.  It's a trombone mark, and I like it.  My hands are also very large, which is in itself a memorable feature.  And they're always warm, even in winter, and other people use my hands like heaters.  I like my hands, and I like to think that someday, a grandchild of mine might remember them when I'm gone.

My life never overlapped with that of either of my grandfathers, which is another thing about this poem that fascinates me.  I don't know what it's like, really, to have a grandfather.  The stories I've heard about them, both paternal and maternal, make me really wish I had met them.  I can really see where I came from, hearing those stories.  It's my hope that someday, I'll be a grandfather to someone, and can pass on what I know to some child.  I hope he or she remembers my hands.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Merciless Beauty - Geoffrey Chaucer

Your eyen two wol slee me sodeinly;
I may the beautee of hem nat sustene
So woundeth it thurghout my herte kene.

And but your word wol helen hastily
My hertes wounde whyl that it is grene,
Your eyen two wol slee me sodeinly;
I may the beautee of hem nat sustene.

Upon my trouth I sey you feithfully
That ye been of my lyf and deeth the quene,
For with my deeth the trouthe shal be sene:

Your eyen two wol slee me sodeinly;
I may the beautee of hem nat sustene,
So woundeth it thurghout my my herte kene.

So hath your beautee fro your herte chaced
Pitee that me n'availeth nat to pleyne,
For Daunger halt your mercy in his cheyne.

Giltles my deeth thus han ye me purchased.
I sey yow sooth, me nedeth nat to feyne,
So hath your beautee fro your herte chaced
Pitee that me n'availeth nat to pleyne.

Allas, that nature hath in yow compaced
So grete beautee that no man may atteyne
To mercy though he sterve for the peyne,

So hath your beautee fro your herte chaced
Pitee that me n'availeth nat to pleyne,
For Daunger halt your mercy in his cheyne.

Sin I fro Love escaped am so fat,
I never think to been in his prison lene;
Sin I am free, I counte him nat a

He may answere and seye this and that;
I do no fors, I speke right as a I mene.
Sin I fro Love escaped am so fat,
I never think to been in his prison lene.

Love hath my name y-strike out of his sclat,
And he is stirke out of my bookes clene
For evermo; ther is noon other mene.
Sin I fro Love escaped am so fat,
I never think to been in his prison lene;
Sin I am free, I counte him nat a bene.

I enjoy the challenge of reading poetry in Middle English, but more than that, the language itself is really wonderful and lyrical.  For those unfamiliar with it, look up a pronunciation guide online and try to read it aloud.  The vowels are much closer to vowels in continental European romance languages than they are to current English vowels.  It's a really lovely sound, and I wish I was better at it, but still, the attempt is fun.  Give it a shot!  It's rewarding, and the language and content of this poem are certainly lovely enough to merit the attempt.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

She Dwelt among the Untrodden Ways - William Wordsworth

She dwelt among the untrodden ways
Beside the springs of Dove,
A Maid whom there were none to praise
And very few to love:

A violet by a mossy stone
Half hidden from the eye!
-Fair as a star, when only one
Is shining in the sky.

She lived unknown, and few could know
When Lucy ceased to be;
But she is in her grave, and, oh,
The difference to me!

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Francis Quarles - On Change of Weather

And were it for thy profit, to obtain
All sunshine?  No vicissitude of rain?
Think'st thou that thy laborious plough requires
Not winter frosts as well as summer fires?
There must be both: sometimes these hearts of ours
Must have the sweet, the seasonable showers
Of tears; sometimes the frost of chill despair
Makes our desired sunshine seem more fair;
Weathers that most oppose the flesh and blood
Are such as help to make our harvest good.
We may not choose, great God: it is thy task;
We know not what to have, nor how to ask.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

The Cool Web - Robert Graves

Children are dumb to say how hot the day is,
How hot the scent of the summer rose,
How dreadful the black wastes of evening sky,
How dreadful the tall soldiers drumming by.

But we have speech, to chill the angry day,
And speech, to dull the rose's cruel scent.
We spell away the overhanging night,
We spell away the soldiers and the fright.

There's a cool web of language winds us in,
Retreat from too much joy or too much fear:
We grow sea-green at least and slowly die
In brininess and volubility.

But if we let our tongues lose self-possession,
Throwing off language and its watery clasp
Before our death, instead of when death comes,
Facing the wide glare of the children's day,
Facing the rose, the dark sky and the drums,
We shall go mad no doubt and die that way.

Monday, August 15, 2011

[Wild Nights - Wild Nights!] - Emily Dickinson

Wild Nights - Wild Nights!
Were I with thee
Wild Nights should be
Our luxury!

Futile - the Winds -
To a Heart in port-
Done with the Compass-
Done with the Chart-

Rowing in Eden-
Ah, the Sea!
Might I but moor- Tonight-
In Thee!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Reflections of Ice-Breaking - Ogden Nash

Is dandy
But liquor
Is quicker.

Humorous poetry should always have a place, so please, enjoy.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Alone - James Joyce

The moon's greygolden meshes make
All night a veil,
The shorelamps in the sleeping lake
Laburnum tendrils trail.

The sly reeds whisper to the night
A name- her name-
And all my soul is a delight,
A swoon of shame.

Last semester, as part of my application for the Fenwick Scholar position, I set, as proof of concept, a poem of James Joyce's to music, and wrote a brief write-up about how the text and music interacted.  The poem I settled on was XXIII, from Chamber Music.  However, my first attempt was to set this poem, Alone, from Joyce's Pomes Penyeach.  I wrote a lovely melody that I feel captures the piece well, but when it came time to write a piano accompaniment, I was at a complete loss.  I'll revisit this eventually, and compose an adequate setting.  To do so may require my to throw out my previous idea, but that's alright.  I'm sure Joyce tossed out more drafts than any of us can imagine.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Blues - Billy Collins

Much of what is said here
must be said twice,
a reminder that no one
takes an immediate interest in the pain of others.

Nobody will listen, it would seem,
if you simply admit
your baby left you early this morning
she didn't even stop to say good-bye.

But if you sing it again
with the help of the band
which will now lift you to a higher,
more ardent, and beseeching key,

people will not only listen,
they will shift to the sympathetic
edges of their chairs,
moved to such acute anticipation

by that chord and the delay that follows,
they will not be able to sleep
unless you release with one finger
a scream from the throat of your guitar

and turn your head back to the microphone
to let them know
you're a hard-hearted man
but that woman's sure going to make you cry.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Western Wind

Western wind, when wilt thou blow,
The small rain down can rain?
Christ, if my love were in my arms
And I in my bed again!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Foilsman - Ralph Goldstein

The Foilsman likes to dance around on swiftly moving feet.
He spends long hours practicing to beat a quick retreat.
He lunges fifty times a day and sweats his youth away,
Until at last he wises up and learns to fence Epee.

I searched out this humorous little poem while talking to a friend about fencing, a sport which I love dearly, and miss very much.  I started fencing at age 7, and stopped during high school, because I became too busy with other things, mainly music.  I still think of fencing as a large part of my personality, even if I am seriously out of practice.

And yes, epee is the superior weapon, despite what saber fencers will tell you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Mongoloid Child Handling Shells on the Beach - Richard Snyder

She turns them over in her slow hands,
as did the sea sending them to her;
broken bits from the mazarine maze,
they are the calmest things on this sand.
They unbroken children splash and shout,
rough as surf, gay as their nesting towels.
But she plays soberly with the sea's
small change and hums back to it its slow vowels.

The title of this poem completely dictates the way in which one reads the poem.  Without the title, and the knowledge that the child is somehow different, the poem might seem like an account of an overly thoughtful child.  To me as a writer, this poem is a reminder to choose my titles carefully, knowing that they dictate the terms on which the reader reads the poem.

Monday, August 8, 2011

They Are Not Long - Ernest Dowson

Vitae summa brevis spem nos vetat incohare longam.

They are not long, the weeping and the laughter,
Love and desire and hate;
I think they have no portion in us after
We pass the gate.

They are not long, the days of wine and roses,
Out of a misty dream
Our path emerges for a while, then closes
Within a dream.

The Latin at the start of the poem reads, "The shortness of life prevents us from entertaining far-off hopes" and is a quote from Horace, in the Odes (Odes 1.4.15).  I think it's a good preface to a poem which concerns itself with the ephemeral nature of our most extreme emotions.  Highest bliss and deepest hate are short things, in the long run.  Somehow, this is comforting.  It's good to know that the worst of the world will not follow us after death.  And if life is but a misty dream, peppered with days of wine and roses, and days of hate, then it is a good dream, on the whole.  That's what I take away from the poem, at least.

Does the poem strike you as more depressing than reassuring?  Is it dreary to know that all of our emotional life is, in the end, as nothing?  Let me know.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

When to Her Lute Corinna Sings - Thomas Campion

When to her lute Corinna sings,
Here voice revives the leaden strings,
And doth in highest notes appear
As any challenged echo clear;
But when she doth of mourning speak,
Ev'n with her sighs the strings do break.

And as her lute doth live or die,
Led by her passion, so must I:
For when of pleasure she doth sing,
My thoughts enjoy a sudden spring;
But if she doth of sorrow speak,
Ev'n from my heart the strings do break.

The marvelous repetition of the last line of each sextet is what really brings this poem together for me.  The song-like rhythm fits with the subject matter of the poem, and the rhymes are even couplets.  The last line being close to the same in each repetition effectively paints the relationship between speaker and listener.  The speaker in the poem is the listener in the situation, whose heart breaks in sync with Corinna', hence the repetition, once from the view of the singer, once from the view of the listener.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Yukon Song - Bill Watterson

My tiger friend has got the sled,
And I have packed a snack.
We're all set for the trip ahead.
We're never coming back!

We're abandoning this life we've led!
So long, Mom and Pop!
We're sick of doing what you've said,
And now it's going to stop!

We're going where it snows all year,
Where life can have real meaning.
A place where we won't have to hear,
"Your room could stand some cleaning."

The Yukon is the place for us!
That's where we want to live.
Up there we'll get to yell and cuss,
And act real primitive.

We'll never have to go to school,
Forced into submission,
By monstrous, crabby teacher who'll
Make us learn addition.

We'll never have to clean  plate,
Of veggie glops and good.
Messily we'll masticate
Using any fork we choose!

The timber wolves will be our friends.
We'll stay up late and howl,
At the moon, till nighttime ends,
Before going on the prowl.

Oh, what a life!  We cannot wait,
To be in that arctic lang,
Where we'll be masters of our fate,
And leaf a life that's grand!

No more of parental rules!
We're heading for some snow!
Good riddance to those grown-up ghouls!
We're leaving!  Yukon ho!

For me, Calvin and Hobbes (from which this poem is excerpted) is the spirit of childhood wrapped in the intellectualism of adulthood.  The way Calvin speaks is that of an adult, but his sentiments all (usually) represent the unbridled enthusiasm and desire of youth.  The desire for autonomy in the above poem is childish, certainly, but it's endearing, and something we've all felt.  Even I still feel it sometimes.  There's something bizarrely re-assuring to me, knowing that I can, at any moment, just get up and go.  There's nothing stopping me from getting in my car and just driving.  Not that I ever would, but somehow, it's always good to know that I'm free (or at least that I have the functional illusion of freedom) to do as I choose at any given moment.

The poem itself is delightful, full of exciting childhood dreams (roaming with the wolves, being free of school and vegetables) and fun imagery.  Who wouldn't want the opportunity to yell and scream for no reason other than that you can?  It's part of being a kid, desiring these things.  It's a lovely little encasement of childhood sentiment, and it comes across as genuine, rather than idealized or cliche and tinted.  Really, to me, this poem is a warming shield, reminding me that I, too, used to be a kid who romped around the backyard on grand adventures.  Particularly fun was chopping down dandelions with sticks, pretending I was a cool swordsman cutting down evil monsters.  I hope I never forget being that heroic little swordsman.  Were I to meet my 7 year old self, I hope I'd be able to play along with him in his imaginative games.  I want to be an adult that my littler self can be proud of, and I think poems like this help to keep me on track.

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Triumph of Bullshit - T.S. Eliot

Ladies, on whom my attentions have waited
If you consider my merits are small
Etiolated, alembicated,
Orotund, tasteless, fantastical,
Monotonous, crotchety, constipated,
Impotent galamatias
Affected, possibly imitated,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.

Ladies, who find my intentions ridiculous
Awkward, insipid and horribly gauche
Pompous, pretentious, ineptly meticulous
Dull as the heart of an unbaked brioche
Floundering versicles freely versiculous
Often attenuate, frequently crass
Attempts at emotion that turn isiculous,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.

Ladies who think me unduly vociferous
Amiable cabotin making a noise
That people may cry out "this stuff is too stiff for us"-
Ingenuous child with a box of new toys
Toy lions carnivorous, cannon fumiferous
Engines vaporous- all this will pass;
Quite innocent, -"he only wants to make shiver us."
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.

And when thyself with silver foot shall pass
Among the theories scattered on the grass
Take up my good intentions with the rest
And then for Christ's sake stick them up your ass.

Listen to an audio recording
A friend suggested I post this wonderful T.S. Eliot, and I must say, typing it out was an absolute delight.  I should mention that I never copy and paste poems into this blog, but rather, type each one out individually.  It gives me a great feel of the cadence of the poem, and also gives me a lot of time to think about the way I'll present the poem.

In this case, I could spend time pointing out all of the little brilliant turns of phrase employed (particularly the line "Floundering versicles freely versiculous") but I feel that would be counter to the poem's overall intent.  Eliot would probably tell me to stick it up my ass if I did take all that time to try to explain the poem.  So enjoy!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

I Hear America Singing - Walt Whitman

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as he stands,
The wood-cutter's song, the ploughboy's on his way in the morning, or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work, or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day-at night the party of young fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

I have no patience for Walt Whitman's idealized song of America.  Do you not hear the song of the oppressed?  Of the immigrant crushed beneath the cities of the age?  Of the tens of thousands of slaves still held at the time of the poem's composition?  It's saccharine and trite to suggest that America is a song without dissonance.

I have no trouble imagining America as a song, but to suggest that it is purely "melodious," particularly in 1860, is insulting.  Dissonance enriches music, making it complex, full bodied, and stimulating.  Walt Whitman seems not to hear that oppressed mass of America's voices, crushed by institutionalized racism, or the poverty that plagued many northern cities.  What America do you hear, Walt Whitman?  The wealthy America that can afford to gallivant about in the woods, the America that can play at poet frontiersman.  Your America sings poorly.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Upon Julia's Clothes - Robert Herrick

Whenas in silks my Julia goes
Then, then, methinks, how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next, when I cast mine eyes, and see
That brave vibration, each way free,
O, how that glittering taketh me!

In his unashamed admiration of the beauty of the movement of Julia's silks, Robert Herrick never directly discusses Julia herself.  While odd to think of at first, it seems to me a very clever way of describing Julia's graceful qualities without sounding obvious and overt.  Saying that "Julia is exceedingly graceful" is nowhere near as effective as showing us how her clothes, like liquid, drape and glitter just so.  Clothes alone cannot move in a way so enticing as to inspire poesy.

The soundscape this poem creates is smartly constructed, full of vowel sounds that flow and rhyme (flows, goes, clothes) as silk does.  The sing song meter of the poem also contributes to the sense of motion of the piece, allowing us to, out loud, recreate those brave vibrations of Julia's silk.  Try reading this out loud.  Let the pace at which you read ebb and flow naturally, and you'll feel a slight tug and pull, almost like stirring bath water with your hands.  It's a wonderful poem to read aloud.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Slim Cunning Hands - Walter de le Mare

Slim cunning hands at rest, and cozening eyes-
Under this stone one loved too wildly lies;
How false she was, no granite could declare;
Nor all earth's flowers, how fair.

This is a beautiful testament to how very strange people can be.  A buried lover, false, unfaithful, characterized by "slim cunning hands" is still too wildly loved to be described.  No amount of flowers could ever speak to her fairness and beauty, which is a reflection of how well loved she was by the narrator.  Her virtues and shortcomings are much too great for earthly things (granite, representing the coldness of her betrayals and the finality of her death, flowers representing the joy of her presence, and the promise of renewed life) to speak for.

It's somehow reassuring to know that for all of someone's faults, awful as they can be, that they can still be loved beyond measure.  We're all strange that way, I suppose.  If we weren't, we wouldn't write poems like this.  I'm glad that we do, though, because it allows us to all remember those who have passed out of our lives, whether by death or circumstance, who were deeply flawed and deeply loved.  Then we must consider that we are all on that end of the equation for someone.  Each and every one of us has left someone else's life, remembered equally as a bringer of sorrow and a bringer of joy.  The memory itself, in its totality, deserves celebration, as this poem reminds us.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Dulce et Decorum Est - Wilfred Owen

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 marches 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 disappointed shells 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 floundering 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 writing 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.

This may be my favorite anti-war poem of all time, because it excruciatingly, agonizingly details the human horrors of trench warfare in World War I.  There is a reason it was called the "Great War" because no one could imagine another war, not after all the horror and the massive human toll of the war.  Sadly mistaken as the world was, this poem's scathing account of the state of warfare in 1917 is as potent now as it was then. 

Owen is unsparing in his detail of the gassed man.  If you're alarmed, or disturbed, or put ill at ease by the description, then Owen has done his job.  I'm sure no amount of text could ever truly convey the horror of that scene, but as an approximation, it works.  Typing it out was very effective, as I could feel the harsh cadence of the lines, and reading it in my head, the harsh, contrasting consonants strengthened the imagery.  "Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs" is particularly effective, as the consonant attacks on "gargling" and "corrupted" add a harshness to the line that somewhat mimics coughing, in this case, coughing blood.  It's touches like these that make it essential to be mindful of the out loud, physical sound aspect of poetry.

The scathing hatred of the old "Lie" in this poem is what brings it all together for me.  Surely we've all heard, in one form or another, that there is some honor in fighting and dying for one's own country.  It is sweet and right to die for your country, we are told.  Owen rejects that, for with this new, modern war, there is no dignity in death.  The old Lie has become bankrupt for his generation, and he rejects it with all the hatred of an exploding bomb.