Owen – "Dulce Et Decorum Est" - Argumentative Essay

Topics: World War I, World War II, Chemical warfare Pages: 3 (888 words) Published: September 10, 2011
"Dulce et Decorum Est" is a short, four stanza poem written by British soldier and poet Wilfred Owen. Dulce describes the horrors of war as illustrated by the description of weary soldiers and the scene of a mustard gas attack as illustrated in the second stanza. Sadly, this poem was perhaps a bit prophetic as Owen died in action in 1918 at the age of 25, shortly after penning it, while attempting to lead his men across the Sambre canal at Ors.

The phrase, Dulce et Decorum Est is translated from Latin to mean; "It is sweet and is the beautiful". Unlike the common belief that it is sweet and becoming to die for one’s country as espoused by the Roman lyrical poet Horace, Owens poem, written while recuperating from injuries sustained on the battlefield, months before his return to the field of battle leading to his eventual death declares the opposite. "Dulce" illustrates the reality and brutality of modern trench warfare. One can also assume that Owen actually experienced and witnessed what was described in the poem. Pulling from his time in the trenches Owen, "often graphically illustrated both the horrors of warfare, the physical landscapes which surrounded him, and the human body in relation to those landscapes." (Wilfred Owen Biography)

World War I, was known as the "War to End all Wars". This term was coined by British author and social commentator H. G. Wells when he published a number of articles in the London newspapers, "which subsequently appeared as a book entitled The War That Will End War" (Wager 147). Additionally, World War I was also at the time one of the most technologically advanced wars in history. It was also a confusing time in terms of modern warfare as many new ways to kill their fellow man were introduced, yet old battle tactics were used. Inventions such as airplanes, submarines, flame throwers, machine guns, tanks, and poison gas, made this one of the most brutal and violent wars in the history of mankind. "First World War can...

Cited: Dacre, Goldman M. "Toxicology and Pharmacology of the Chemical Warfare Agent Sulfur Mustard." United States Army Biomedical Research and Development Laboratory, June 1996. Web. 01 June 2011. .
Owen, Wilfred. “Dulce Et Decorum Est”. From The Bedford Introduction to Literature: Reading, Thinking, Writing (9th Edition), Michael Meyer. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2011. 852-853 print
"Technology During World War I." World News. World News Network. Web. 02 June 2011. Web Video. .
Wagar, Walter Warren. H.G. Wells: Traversing Time. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan UP, 2004. Print.
Wilfred Owen Biography. Poets.org - Poetry, Poems, Bios & More. Academy of American Poets. Web. 01 June 2011. .
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