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Topics: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, Siegfried Sassoon, Poetry Pages: 7 (3001 words) Published: October 12, 2013
Analysis of “Dulce et Decorum Est”
The poem we have been analysing in class, Dulce et Decorum Est, was written by a man named Wilfred Owen. Wilfred Owen was a soldier in the first world war and was born on the 18th of March 1893, and died on the 4th of November 1918, a week before the end of the first world war. In this poem, Owen’s objective is to show the horror and reality of war, and to set this horror against the way in which war was often glorified. His objection, the glorification of war is reflected in the title, “Dulce et Decorum Est” This is translated as “It is sweet and glorious”. Wilfred Owen uses this as a form of irony, to draw in the reader’s attention. It was especially meant for another war poet, Jesse Pope. She wrote about all the good and positive reasons for war, and tried to encourage men to go and fight for their country. You can easily feel how Wilfred Owen felt about the first world war. His use of adjectives like “bitter”, “helpless” and “smothering dreams” and the use of imagery, give us a clear picture of what it was like. These words are used to convey the ugliness, fear, poignancy and the pain of the war. Wilfred Owen uses clear tones throughout the poem help us to understand how he felt, and why he felt this way. In most of the poem, the tone is quite angry, due to the choice of words and how they are used. Owen gives us graphic descriptions, speaking in a very direct and straight forward way. His use of the word “you” in the third stanza, emphasizes my point clearly. He uses this to draw us in, and to make us feel how he felt. Not only does he make us feel how he felt, but the poet makes us use our senses. He makes us hear this one man dying, struggling for life. He makes us taste the bitterness of war, and the reality of it. All of these techniques are used in the poem, because he wants us to be shocked at the reality that he is presenting. In his illustration of war, Owen describes an incident of exhausted soldiers trudging through the mud, clearly unhappy and very tired. They are all leaving the front line in order to rest for a while in a safer place. Before this can happen the group get attacked by a sea of gas. Owen explains how one soldier is late in putting on his mask. Wilfred Owen describes the symptoms shown by this man as the poison slowly kills him. He then tells us how this man “plunges” at him, “guttering, choking, drowning”. Owen is helpless; he can’t do anything to save this man’s life. This man is forever haunting his dreams. Wilfred Owen then says “My friend you would not tell with such high zest” So, directly speaking to us, and Jesse Pope, or anyone who thinks that war is sweet or glorious, that it’s actually a lie! The poet then repeats the title as “the old lie”: “Dulce et Decorum Est Pro patria mori”. The full translation of this is “It is sweet and glorious to die for one’s country”.

In Stanza 1, I have already briefly talked about the contrast between the title of the poem and the actual poem itself. It’s ironic. When we think of the title we imagine men with high spirits, willing to fight for their country, not “old beggars under sacks”, smelly and dirty, with the weight of the war weighing them down. In an instant we start to realise that war isn’t sweet or glorious. The word “beggars” implies that maybe the soldiers were of low ranks. That they have all, no matter what rank, have been reduced to a basic human level, dependant on others for their survival. “Sacks” are like rags; this gives the impression that the soldiers haven’t even been given adequate warm clothing. All this imagery creates sympathy for the soldiers and uses an image that you will be able to relate to. The rhythm in the first stanza is slow, with lots of commas. Owen uses punctuation like this because he wants you to see war for what it is. The use of commas, slow what you are reading down, and making it longer, as if you are walking/trudging alongside these tired soldiers. As the...
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