Dulce Et Decorum Est’

Topics: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, Chemical warfare, World War I Pages: 5 (1618 words) Published: April 4, 2011
Dulce Et Decorum Est’

Wilfred Owen was born on the 18th of March 1893 in United Kingdom. He is one of the most important English War Poets. The popularity of Owen today can be explained by his condemnation of the horrors of war. As an English poet, he is noted for his anger at the cruelty and waste of war and his pity for its victims. He said, “My subject is War and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.” Being a soldier, he got killed in action on November 4th, 1918 in France, seven days before the end of the First World War.

The poet has a very strong deep down message to tell. The horror of war is much worse than people imagine. Owen is saying that it is not sweet or fitting to die in the battle. Owen saw misery, destruction and pain and wanted people to be more aware of the cruelty of war and hopefully to stop it from happening again. He tells us that we should not try to glorify the war anymore.

‘Dulce Et Decorum Est’ is Latin for: “It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country.” This line needs to be remembered as the poem is based on the idea of it as ‘the old lie’ mocking the established belief of nationalism and duty to one’s country. It is mocking the established authoritative language of Latin that was reserved for the courts and the churches. Owen was against the propaganda and lies that were being told at that time. He wanted to end the glorification of war. In contrast with the title, which suggests that war, patriotic duty, and even death for one’s country are “sweet and fitting,” the poet shows us that there is nothing noble about the wretched condition of the soldiers in their march

Wilfred Owen uses language in different ways to warn future generations of the horror of war. The theme of the poem is that war and dying for one’s country are not at all glorious. This message is echoed throughout the poem from the first to last stanza.

The opening stanza we get a very different image of the soldiers from what we might expect from the title. Anyone would think of soldiers as smart, proud, watchful and fierce in their fighting skills. But Owen’s picture is based on his personal experience of the battlefield and the aversion he has developed for wars. There is nothing romantic about Owen’s soldiers. They are no more great soldiers or heroes. The war has destroyed them from being fit young men to exhausted, diseased men. They are ‘Bent-double, like old beggars under sacks, knock-kneed, coughing like hags’. These men are so tired that they are like old women and beggars floundering through the mud. The comparison that he makes of the soldiers with the beggars and hags gives the idea that he is all out to bring the negative picture of the consequences of war.

The speaker defines his relationship to the situation when he uses the statement: “we cursed through sludge.” By identifying himself as one of the soldiers, he establishes the authority necessary to comment on the hardships he describes. In addition, he reminds us that war is not a far-away spectacle, not the heroic scene described by Tennyson in “The Charge of the Light brigade,” but as a sickening and hard reality where the soldiers dream and move laboriously towards safety.

The poet empathizes with the soldiers with the words: ‘Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots but limped on, blood shod.’ Owen mentions that the men “marched asleep” to indicate their physical and mental condition. The men march as if it is a death march. The men moving on without boots with their feet covered in blood… their physical condition of becoming lame, blind , tired and their inability to hear the falling of shells behind them point out to the fact that these soldiers are nearer to death than being alive. The futility of war is shown in the first part of the poem where we see the soldiers, fatigued and wounded, returning to the base camp.

The second stanza describes the mustard gas attack. In World War I both allies and the...
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