Critical Analysis of Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est”
Wilfred Owen’s poem “Dulce et Decorum Est”, is a powerful poem with graphical lifelike images on the reality of war. It is blatantly apparent that the author was a soldier who experienced some of the most gruesome images of war. His choice of words, diction, tone, syntax, and metaphor’s paint a vivid picture in a brilliant poem. His choice for the poem’s name is ironical in itself. The entire phrase is “Dulce et Decorum Est Pro patria mori”, which basically translates to “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country”. This was a common theme told to young soldiers during the First World War. The phrase itself came from a Roman poet named Horace. The argumentative claim of the author’s poem is the true reality of war, not that of honor or courage, but the horrendous side of war. His poem tells of a personal experience in which he survived a chemical warfare attack. Although he survives, some of his fellow troops do not. His choice of words brings this traumatic experience to life for others to understand and sympathize. He sets up his poem by giving the readers the setting and background. Wilfred Owen writes a museum’s worth of images with these short words introducing the setting: Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began our trudge.(Meyer 886)
His use and combination of words specifically tell a tale of battle weary soldiers. They are obviously leaving the front line of battle, as the explosions of rockets and fires are still apparently behind them. The reader receives a cinematic vision of troops returning back to the rear area after a long period of time of engagement in the thick of battle. The exhaustion is portrayed through his use of metaphor, “Drunk with fatigue” (Meyer 886). This image conveys a drunk at the end of the night...
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