Wilfred Owen's war poems central features include the wastage involved with war, horrors of war and the physical effects of war. These features are seen in the poems "Dulce Et Decorum Est" and "Anthem for Doomed Youth" here Owen engages with the reader appealing to the readers empathy that is felt towards the soldier. These poems interact to explore the experiences of the soldiers on the battlefields including the realities of using gas as a weapon in war and help to highlight the incorrect glorification of war. This continuous interaction invites the reader to connect with the poems to develop a more thorough understanding of war.
Dulce Et Decorum Est uses strong imagery all through the poem which appeals to the readers imagination so that the reader can try to understand the experiences of the soldiers. At the start of the poem the imagery in the simile "like old beggars" and "coughing like hags" displays how the young soldiers are succumbing to the physical and mental fall due to war and now appear old. Here through the choice of words such as "beggars" which conjures the reader to think of the soldiers on their hands and knees followed by the word "hags" suggesting the soldiers are old. Continued imagery i used in the next line of the "haunting flares which we turned our backs" with the shells and gunfire continuing during the night behind them even though the soldiers have stopped to rest. A comparison made between the soldiers and robots is made in line six "Men marched asleep" implying that the men are walking around in a robotic way as if the y were "designed" to continue walking despite the pain and fatigue. This imagery urges the reader to reflect upon the soldiers awful experiences and to consider with this knowledge how they feel about war.
The action of the second stanza of the gas attack sees a change of pace and a sense of urgency. The attention of the reader is grasped in the line "GAS! Gas! Quick, boys" and the frenzy of the line directly correlates to the frenzy involved during a gas attack. The use of repetitant capitalisation of the first "GAS" and the use of exclamation marks creates this mood. The next line "An ecstasy of fumbling" adds to the current poem atmosphere with everyone fumbling to have the masks on before being affected by gas. An anti-climax of helmets being fitted "just in time" misleads the reader into thinking that the helmets all were put on successfully but in the following plosive conjunction "but" the reader now understands this is not the case. Again in the last line Owen requests for the attention of the reader with the personal pronoun and simile "As under a green sea, I saw him drowning" an image of the fog of green air in which the soldiers disappear in is generated in the mind of the reader.
The aftermath o the gas attacks is addressed in the last stanza. The reader is now apart of the poem by the use of the possessive pronoun "you too" that imposes the reader to empathise with the injured victim. The victim is then described by the gruesome alliteration and assonance of "watch the white eyes writhing in his face" that together enhance the vivid sight. The continuing imagery of "gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs" uses onomatopoeia to lead the reader to believe that war is incorrectly glorified. The last lines "My friend, you would not tell with such a high zest/ To children ardent for some desperate glory,/The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori". Owen is suggesting that the translation of "Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori", it is sweet and honourable to die for one's country is highly ironic. Owen's depictions of anguish and agony that shatter illusions that war is glorious. The sarcastic addresses of "my friend" challenge the reader question the wastage of war and its necessity.
The concept of waste of human life...