Dulce et Decorum Est

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Dulce et Decorum Est Wilfred Owen Owen's poem Dulce et Decorum Est is a passionate expression of outrage at the horrors of war and of pity for the young soldiers sacrificed in it. From the title of this poem people back home would have expected an understanding poem, helping to overcome their grief at the loss of a loved one, instead what they got was a poem expressing outrage at the lies surrounding the ‘Great’ War. The quote by Horace translates as ‘It is sweet and right to die for ones’ country’, but the poem is about proving to people at home that this isn’t a sweet and honourable way to die (if there is any). It goes through the worst parts of the war and describes them in detail. The horrors in these descriptions contradict the glorification of the war The poem consists of four stanzas, the first describes the soldiers, the second a gas attack, the third Owen’s nightmares and last an accusation to the people back home. Owen’s poems are suffused with the horror of battle, and yet finely structured and innovative. The first stanza sets the scene as it describes the conditions the men fought in and their feelings. Owen immediately shocks the readers by describing the young soldiers as ‘bent double’ emphasising their exhaustion and the way they slump along, deformed by fatigue, I think this is an effective simile because no one back home will be expecting their proud soldiers described as beggars. The simile ‘coughing like hags’ was used because the men who went into battle were relatively young, yet after battle they looked old and ugly, hence hags. With this one sentence Owen implies health conditions that no one at home would ever dream of. Words like Hags, Cursed and Haunting are used as they all have connotations of evil to emphasise the misery and hardship of the front lines. Owen chooses his word carefully using ones the readers will understand to describe processes they can’t, ‘Drunk with fatigue’ (Line 7), comparing the effects of being drunk to being overly tired, for example the wavering walk, tripping and stumbling. This is effective because everyone reading would know what it’s like to be drunk. The ‘tired, outstripped Five-Nines’ being a type of gun, but also the soldiers being sent from the trenches for some rest and relaxation. He uses words like We, Our to show that he is part of this mayhem. He seems almost detached as if he has seen this so often, that to him it has lost the horror value that we feel. In the second stanza there is a dramatic change in pace to demonstrate

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