In this short, 28 lined poem ‘Dulcet Et Decorum Est.’ by Wilfred Owen, he explores the horrors of life and trench warfare through the experience of one group of soldiers. In doing this he attacks the misconception which existed at home, that war was glorious and was something to be celebrated by focusing on the death of a young soldier. Owen is effective by his skilful use of language, imagery and structure, which all work together to express the true, full horror of the young men in the trenches of world war one. In doing this he shows the brutal and dehumanising death, creating a contrast between misconception and reality. Owen exploits every aspect of war and portrays a destructive experience for the men described. In my essay I will analyse the imagery conveyed and show how horrible the war was.
Owens war poetry is a passionate expression of outrage at the horrors of war and of pity for the young soldiers sacrificed in it. From the first stanza Owen uses strong metaphors and similes to convey a strong warning. The first line describes the troops as being "like old beggars under sacks" This creates the image of a tired soldier, fatigued and like a beggar on the floor, curled and being helpless. ‘Knocked-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge’, This refers to how the men in the war were exhausted, weak and were trying to escape from attack, and coughing like hags because of all the fumes and the exhaustion, knock kneed because of the lack of nutrient, but they had to continue on through the sludge that pulled them down, cursing about their situation that they were in. ‘Till on the haunting flares we turn our backs’. This creates the image of the soldiers turning their backs from the flares which were sent up in the air to burn with a bright glare, to light up the men and the other targets on the front line. ‘Towards our distant rest began to trudge’ The soldiers are on their way to their distant rest , a place away from the front line to rest for a few days; trudged - giving the image of the men slowly walking through the mud, exhausted and weak. ‘Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots’, this explains how exhausted they were as they probably had not slept for days. Furthermore, it suggests that they are in a horrific condition and are facing extreme and excruciating pain. ‘But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;.’ This sets the image of the soldiers very slow moving and that the men must be injured from previous traumatising experiences, and are suffering in pain. However, the soldiers do still have a small amount of energy left and determination is shown because they do not give up. ‘Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots.’ Being drunk with fatigue is being so exhausted that the soldiers will come across as drunk, as they staggered, almost if their mind is asleep and they can barely think for themselves, as if they are not sane. It sets an image of the soldiers dragging their boots through the mud; as if they could trip over their own shadow. While the soldiers were going through so much; they had to also be deafened by the shells rushing through the air. ‘Of tired, outstripped five-nines that dropped behind.’ The soldiers have struggled greatly, and are beyond the reach of these shells which are now falling behind them.
In this first stanza the pace is very slow, the rhythm is established through Owen's use of heavy, long words. This illustrates how slow and long the war was. Owen's use of words create very vivid images such as the simile that is used in the second line, it compares the soldier's physical condition to that of witches. The image created is of very old, wrinkled women slowly stumbling through the thick mud.
In the second stanza there is suddenly a massive contrast and the mood instantly changes. The pace rapidly speeds up and the difference between the slow mood that had been previously displayed, to a much...