The Outcome of Blind Patriotism: Analysis of “Dulce et Decorum est”
Wilfred Owen, in his poem “Dulce et decorum est,” shares his firsthand experiences with trench warfare and gas attacks during World War One. The poem begins by outlining the overall decrepit state of the soldiers, goes on to briefly describe the gas attack, and finishes by dwelling on the tragedy and traumatization that ensues after a soldiers death. His direct address to the reader in the last stanza closes the poem in a powerful, compelling manner. The soldiers are described at the beginning of the poem as “marching asleep,” “lame,” “blind,” and “deaf,” which show the pitiful state that the soldiers often were in, and the desensitization or detachment of emotions that they often face. They are struck with a gas attack; there is one man who has fallen. The narrator describes it “as under a green sea, I saw him drowning.” This powerful symbol serves to show the destruction of war on all who partake in it, as the sea is often seen as hugely powerful and ruthless entity, similar to that of warfare. The last stanza describes the horror that the narrator witnesses in the aftermath of the death, and closes with a warning to all further generations the “Lie: Dulce et decorum est, Pro patria mori” which translates as “It is sweet and right to die for your country.” Wilfred Owen, in his poem “Dulce et decorum est,” shows the dangers of blind patriotism and nationalism, and challenges the propaganda that the younger generations are fed so that they will enlist in future wars.
We immediately notice while reading the poem the vividness and realism of the imagery. The horrors described almost become alive before the readers eyes. This is achieved by diverse literary elements including symbolism, imagery, tone, and contrast, among many others. The tone of the poem is set in the opening lines with images such as “old beggars,” “[we] cursed though sludge,” and “[we] limped on, blood shot.” The...
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