The History of The Old Lie and Poetry of Wilfred Owen

2474 Words10 Pages
The History of The Old Lie and Poetry of Wilfred Owen 'Dulce et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori' is a Latin saying that was expressed by the roman poet Horace. It means 'It is sweet and fitting to die for your country'. When Owen wrote his poetry based on his experience of the Great War he did not agree with this saying; he wrote poetry that was full of horror yet told the truth. Therefore he called this saying 'the old lie'. Owen called it this because war was no longer skilful like it once was in roman times fighting face to face close combat, war was now full of gas shells, bombs and long distance shots. The reality was that you could be the best soldier in the world and get gassed from an oblivious enemy and lay there dying from a cheap shot. However, until Owen challenged the lie other war poets such as Tennyson who wrote 'The Charge of the Light Brigade' in 1854 and Brooke who wrote 'The Soldier' in 1914 agreed with the Latin saying telling people through their poems that it was honourable to die for your country. Lord Alfred Tennyson was a poet in 19th Century. One of the poems he wrote is called 'The Charge of the Light Brigade'. This poem is about a battle that took place in 1854 it could also be described as a slaughter because it was the result of a mix up of communication so that 600 horses and soldiers rode into a 'valley of death' as Tennyson described it. The atmosphere created by Tennyson in this poem is surprisingly positive considering the subject of the poem. Tennyson's attitude to war was that it made people more noble to fight and die for your country. This was illustrated in his poem by using words like 'Honour... ... middle of paper ... ... The history of the old lie is that it means that it is sweet and fitting to die for your country. It was believed by many poets of whom two are known as Brooke and Tennyson. These are two well known poets that made the majority of the public believe in the old lie through their own poetic techniques which included positive thinking and heroism but through the poetry examined it can be seen that the attitudes to war have moved from believing the old lie and thinking that war is noble and honorable, to the majority thinking that war is horrific, evil and inhumane this is due to the effect of poems written by poets such as Wilfred Owen which had such an effect on peoples attitudes to war that they begin to believe a complete contrast of what they believed before. This is due to Owen explaining the concept of the old lie.
Open Document