Dulce et Decorum Est

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Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est” and E. E Cummings’, “next to of course god america i” are poems that critique patriotic propaganda. Both poems use words and images to effectively depict the influence that patriotic propaganda has on war. “Dulce et Decorum Est” uses descriptive words to create realistic images of the horrors soldiers are faced with during combat, whereas “next to of course god america i” uses sarcasm to inform readers that the abuse of propaganda can be used to manipulate others. The attitudes they convey are quite similar; both suggest that propaganda is a lie; it is not sweet and fitting to die for one’s country. It is ingrained in soldier’s minds that to die for ones country is a great and honourable sacrifice. However, in the poem Dulce et Decorum Est the speaker uses powerful words and images to portray that patriotic propaganda is an “old lie” (Owen 27). In the first stanza, the speaker explains the effects that war has on young soldiers: “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks/ Knock- Kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge” (Owen 1-2). Propaganda portrays soldiers as being young heroes, those who are strong, healthy and vigorous. However, based on the evidence expressed in the previous quotation soldiers are not all what propaganda portrays them to be. The speaker chooses words such as “bent double, like old baggers” and “knock-kneed” (Owens 1-2) to expose the discomfort and effects that war has on young soldiers. The soldiers are discreetly compared to crippled old men which emphasizes just how badly war has affected their bodies, stripping them of their health, making them weak and helpless like “old beggars” (Owen 1). Furthermore, the speaker expresses his experience as a sold... ... middle of paper ... ...upport of patriotic propaganda. The speaker may be worried because of the fear of what he is saying will cause him to being labelled as unpatriotic. Cumming could have incorporated this line into the poem to enforce personal beliefs and protect national pride. Both poems would agree that patriotic propaganda is a method used to alter nation’s values and ideas. Although both poems differ in the portrayal of the patriotic message they both criticize the affects of propaganda. For those who believe that it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country, any man who has experienced war first hand would admit that patriotic propaganda is a lie. It would be interesting to further analyze the poems and consider how historical usage of propaganda and modern media by politicians compare, as well as to analyse if propaganda today is still using and abusing patriotism.

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