Owen's Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori

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Through the use of poetry, we are able to powerfully discuss an idea or opinion about certain topics that could not be so eloquently conveyed through other literary media. Wilfred Owen was both a Soldier Poet during WWI. He was a man firmly against the idea of sending young boys off to war with the promise of glory. His views of war and the gruesome reality that it is, is deeply rooted within this poem and emphasized though the use of vivid imagery, persuasive similes and carefully constructed figurative language. Owen’s opinion that death by war is neither “sweet nor proper” as the sarcastic title suggests; resonates straight through to the last line – Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori2, which is rightfully preceded by the phrase “The old Lie.”

This poem brilliantly shows how thoughtful use of effective words can shape our feelings and emotions. With this in mind, the first line of this poem begins with a powerful simile, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks.” Here we get a strong comparison; an image of a duality within the soldiers. Once proud serving men, to now bent and crippled creatures, hobbling about like dirty, mud covered old beggars. The strength in these first few words is immense. Not only as a simile but also as bold imagery. I could write an entire essay on the effectiveness of this carefully constructed first line, the colors and sounds that come to mind are incredible, but I digress; let’s continue on. In addition to powerful line one, we are thrown into an equally powerful line two. “Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge.” Owen again uses a brilliant simile; showing the humanistic side of the once proud and innocent soldiers; to this now creature like hag. The word hag itself imp...

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...n what war stands for, only in the camaraderie among men, and the sacrifice they make in risking their lives to save another’s.

Works Cited

“Dulce et Decorum Pro patria mori.” Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. 2008. Web.

Hibberd, Dominic. Wilfred Owen: A New Biography. 1st ed. Ivan R. Dee Publisher, (2003): 368. Print.

Pope, Jessie. “Who’s for the Game.” Jessie Pope’s war poems. Nabu Press Publisher, (2010): 11. Print.

Owen, Wilfred. “Dulce et Decorum Est.” The Harbrace Anthology of Literature. 4th ed. Ed. Jon C. Stott, Raymond E. Jones, and Rick Bowers, Toronto: Nelson Thomson, (2006).: 238-239. Print.

Quinn, William A. “Multiple Metrics in Wilfred Owen’s ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’.” English Language Notes 21.2 (1983): 38-41. MLA International Bibliography. EBSCO. Print. 15 Nov. 2010

Starr, Edwin. “War.” War and Peace / Involved. Universal, 2003. CD
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