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"Dulce et decorum est" is a poem written by the poet Wilfred Owen during the First World War.

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DULCE ET DECORUM EST - A poem by Wilfred Owen "Dulce et decorum est" is a poem written by the poet Wilfred Owen during the First World War. It was written to portray the reality of war. In it he describes the horrors he witnessed as a soldier from the front line of battle. The aim of the poem was to tell people that Jessie Pope, a poet who was encouraging young men to go to war because it was glorious, was wrong. The poem starts with soldiers marching away from the battlefield. They have just been in battle and are heading back to their rest areas: "bent double" Owen describes the way in which the soldiers are walking. They are bent double with exhaustion and fatigue. They walk in a crooked stance. They are unable to walk properly; it is too much effort so they walk leaning over almost collapsing but not quite. The way that the soldiers look is portrayed in the poem: "like old beggars under sacks" The soldiers have been in a bloody battle, they are dirty and shabby. Owen describes them as like beggars because they remind him of homeless people with rags for clothes, uncomfortable and undesirable. Their clothes look like sacks, battered and torn. The men are "knock-kneed". The men are probably shaking with terror and lack of sleep and nutrition. This means that their knees are likely to be shaking therefore giving the impression that their knees are knocking. Owen uses alliteration to again represent the extreme exhaustion of the soldiers. The soldiers are, "coughing like hags" They probably caught lung diseases from the appalling conditions in the trenches and being so close to people all the time. ...read more.


The man is stumbling about in the gas fumbling for his only chance of salvation and safety. The man is, "flound'ring like a man in fire or lime" "Floundering" is a word often applied to fish. The man reminds Owen of a fish out of water squirming uncomfortably trying to grasp for air. It as if the man were in fire, burning uncontrollably and unable to help himself. Owen uses a simile to show this. There is much pain and terror. The poet says it is like the man is in "lime". Lime is a chemical used to decompose bodies and other substances. Maybe his body is gradually shrivelling up from the gas. Lime is also a shade of green, so it fits because the gas is also green. Owen sees the man through, "misty panes and thick green light" The misty panes are the panes of the gas mask, which could be misted up from condensation or just the fact that there is so much gas it is impossible to see properly. The air is thick and green. It is thick with the deadly chemicals from the gas that clog up the air around the soldiers like a cloud. The fact that the air is green shows that the atmosphere is alien like the men have gone into another world. The poet continues to describe the horrific situation: "under a green sea, I saw him drowning" Owen continues with the sea theme. Being shut in gas must feel as if you are under water. The man is still struggling to escape the horror and although he is helpless, his instincts cannot give up and he is still searching for air. ...read more.


This is usually translated as "It is a sweet and honourable thing to die for one's country". This is the message that Pope was trying to get across. However Owen believes that people should be told the truth and be shown the reality of war so they know what they are letting themselves in for. Some people get the picture that Owen is saying that war is wrong. He may have thought that, however he does not say that in this poem. All he is saying is that it is not honourable, sweet or glorious to die for your country in war and it certainly is not dignified. He was trying to put his point across. In this poem Owen has used many different techniques to put forward his point. The main one of these is the emotive language that Owen uses for shock. He also uses alliteration, metaphors, similes, listing in threes and onomatopoeia to name but a few. The sarcasm to Jessie Pope and other people who shared her point of view is evident all the way through the poem especially the final stanza. In the poem he has mixed realism with description to produce a poem that reflects his personal account of the night. To write this poem must have been hard and heart rending as the poet has had to remember his friend and the night when the event happened. I think that Wilfred Owen was writing for a good cause. Everyone deserved to know the truth and understand more about what war was. Owen wrote from his heart and I think his poem deserve respect because they are true and paint a vivid picture in your imagination. Sarah Williams JCK 9.1.2 1 ...read more.

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