Wilfred Owen's "Dulce Et Decorum Est" conveys in a bitter, sardonic tone the true macabre and dolorous reality of a popularly romanticized view of war. The simplicity of diction and rhythm provide a sense of verisimilitude, while paralleled by mimicry of the highly romanticized poetic form of the sonnet communicates a harsh, dramatic anti-war sentiment while mocking the opposition to his outlook. The natural rhythm of iambic pentameter and frequent caesura creates a lull that imitates the surrealism experienced by the "men [as they] marched asleep" while the cacophony of how they "cursed", "knock-kneed, coughing like hags" illustrate a bleak and bitter disposition within the first stanza. The rhythm slackens as it precedes thus amplifying a sudden urgency of the telegraphic "Gas! Gas! Quick, boys!" hinting on the tense, horrific nature of the events that ensue. The rhythm becomes, once more surreal, but frantic rather than lulling, as the soldiers struggle with an intangible enemy. "But someone still was yelling out and stumbling and flound'ring like a man in fire or lime
" The franticness suddenly trails off affording an eerie, but stark realization of the gruesome fate of the man as he is "guttering, choking, drowning." Diction that is as violent and choppy as the actions they describe disrupt the surreal progression. The graphic imagery of "white eyes writhing", "a devil's [face] sick of sin", "blood come gargling", "froth-corrupted lung" signal the emergence of a jarring, acerbically honest tone. Sensory imagery of blood "bitter as the cud of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues" elevates the actuality of war to a point far beyond grotesque. The first person point-of-view narration and the apostrophe, "My friend", focus the attention on the somber message that perhaps "It is [not] so sweet and fitting to die for one's country.
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