-The title is taken from an old Latin saying "How sweet and honourable it is to die for one's country", as quoted at the end of the poem.
-During WW2 it was considered deeply unpatriotic to criticise y
the war effort.Wilfred Owen who witnessed a soldier dying, relives his death in a realistic manner.Owen uses this title in an unusual way.The entire poem disproves and undermines what the title suggests.
Theme: War, death as a consequence and the harsh really surrounding it.Owen provided us with a realistic view of war, not an ideal view.
Stanza 1: -The soldiers are compared to "old beggars under sacks", "coughing like hags".This is an effective use of similes to highlight the appearance and unhealthy conditions the soldiers are forced to endure.
-An image of tired, worn-out and limping soldiers is presented in the following lines.
-We heard sounds of the battlefield through Owen's description of the "hoots of tired outstripped Five-Nines".However, the soldiers are "deaf" to such sounds because they have become accustomed to the battlefield.
Stanza 2: -Panic and confusion dominates this stanza.The soldiers struggle to put on their gas masks and helmets during a gas explosion.Owen creates a sense of panic through the use of language :"fumbling", "clumsy", "stumbling","floundering" and the outcry "Gas!Gas!Quick boys!".
-Unfortunately, one particular soldier fails to fit his gas mask on time. He yells out in desperation "like a man in fire or lime"
-Owen compares the green gas to "a green sea".The soldiers find it difficult to see through the "misty panes and thick green light".This soldier is "drowning" in this "green sea" inhaling toxic gas.
- The speaker in this poem endures terrible nightmares and feels helpless.Owen uses strong verbs to highlight the panic and indignity of dying on the battlefield : "plunges", "guttering", "choking", "drowning"
Stanza 3: - The speaker asks us to try to understand the grotesque aspect of war.In his "smothering dreams" he sees the dying soldier £flung" into a wagon.There is nothing sweet and honourable about the manner in which his body is treated.The soldier is at the point of death and Owen is haunted by the sight of his "white eyes writhing in his face".
- Owen continues to describe the sounds of this man dying, "the blood come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs".This is a realistic depiction of a soldier dying.
- Owen uses two similes to highlight this "obscene" and ""bitter" moment of death.
- In the final lines Owen pleads to us in a passionate tone not to lie about the reality of war to those who are innocent and naive in their view of war.
Use of similes: 1."like old beggars under sacks"
2."coughing like hags"
3."floundering like a man in fire or lime"
4."As under a green sea"
5."his hanging face like a devil's sick of sin"
6."obscene as cancer"
7."bitter as the cud of vile incurable sores on innocent tongues"
Sound Effects: 1. onomatopoeia (e.g. "trudge", "plunges", "guttering", "choking", "drowning")
- This sound effect is used in order to create a sense of more vivid imagery.
- Sounds of the battlefield and sounds of the soldier dying are conveyed through onomatopoeic words.
2.Use of exclamation marks and capital letters ("Gas!Gas!Quick Boys!)
- adds to sense of panic/confusion
Title: -This poem has an interesting title, due to its Latin origin and because the poem itself actually disproves and undermines the title.
- Owen deliberately uses the first part of the old Latin saying - which translates as "How sweet and honourable it is".This translation doesn't give us and explanation and we are forced to read the entire poem in order to learn of the whole Latin saying - "to die for one's country"
- A poet usually uses a title to reinforce the theme of the poem.However, in this case, the poet uses a title that actually contradicts the central message of the poem.
"Dulce et Decorum est" is a poem written by Wilfred Owen during World War I, and published posthumously in 1920. The LATIN title is taken from the Roman poet Horace. - Wikipedia.
Everything else you're right though
A poem that I have studied that dealt with war was ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ by Wilfred Owen. I thought this poem was a particularly interesting comment on war because its author both fought and died in the war. Owen was killed tragically in action just a week before the war ended.
The poem condemns those who glorified the war and tempted young men to enlist with heroic rhetoric. It contrasts the idealistic views that were held about war with the harsh reality of those who actually fought in the front lines.
Owen uses much of this poem to create a vivid picture of how awful the war was and to show the fiercely detrimental effect it had on the soldiers. The first stanza conveys a picture of exhausted, overburdened and injured men. The soldiers are “Drunk with fatigue”, many are without boots but are forced to limp on. The sounds of the battlefield are brilliantly conveyed through Owen’s alliteration and onomatopoeia.
Owen describes seeing a man “choking” to death during a poisonous gas raid. The picture of him “drowning” is haunting and very disturbing. He shows the awful indignity of death as the man was “flung” in a wagon as they marched on to their next destination.
The poet shows the lasting effect of the war on the soldiers who witnessed these deaths. They may have survived but the horrific memories lasted in their “smothering dreams”.
In the final lines of the poem, Owen utterly rejects the “old Lie” that it is sweet and honorable to die for one’s country. This poem is a brilliant condemnation of war.