• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Trace the History of the "Old Lie" - The term the "Old Lie" was used by Wilfred Owen in his poem "Dulce et Decorum Est".

Extracts from this document...


Trace the History of the "Old Lie" The term the "Old Lie" was used by Wilfred Owen in his poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" to describe what he thought of the motto "Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" which translates litteraly as "it is sweet and honourable to die for ones country". This motto was written by a famous roman poet called Horace in a poem called Odes. When Horace wrote his poem war was fought with hand to hand combat and so the best soldier would normally win. By the time that Owen wrote his poems it was a new era of warfare and it was possible for the best-trained soldier to be killed by a gas shell fired from many miles away by an enemy who could not even see him. Because of this war had become unfair. When Alfred Lord Tennyson wrote his poem "The Charge Of The Light Brigade" the attitude to war was that it was honourable to die for your country and that it was every individuals duty to do something for their country and that fighting for their country was part of that duty. In this essay I will consider five poems that relate to warfare from a time period of 200 years. ...read more.


The title is ironic, as it is the opposite of the theme of the poem that is war. It is also strange as the final word of the poem is "Death" and this has been capitalised. The form of the poem is the same as The Soldier as it contains and 8 line octet and a 6 line sestet. In the 6th and 7th lines of the first stanza Brooke seems to be saying that it is dishonourable and cowardly not to fight for your country. "Leave the sick hearts that honour could not move, And half men, and their dirty songs and dreary" But after saying all this Rupert Brooke did not fight in WW1 for his country. Brooke seems to be saying throughout the poem that if you fight for your country you will be better person mentally and spiritually in the quotes "Naught broken save this body" and "the laughing heart's long peace there". Brooke also uses the euphemism of describing death as sleep "but sleep has mending" in order to soften the blow of using a harsh word such as death although he does use the word in the final line of his poem but this is not in a negative context. In the 5th line of the first stanza Brooke talks of the world in peacetime and says that "Glad from a world grown so ...read more.


The opening 2 lines of the poem are "Bent double like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge," These lines describe the soldiers as won out emotionally and physically by the war in which they have fought. In the 2nd and 3rd stanza's Owen describes a soldier who has been killed by one of the new very powerful weapons of WW1 and WW2, gas. It describes how the young soldier seems to start burning in the gas and uses sickening imagery such as "froth corrupted lungs" to describe this soldier throwing up his lungs and dying a slow and painful death. In the final 4 lines of the poem Owen seems to be directing sarcasm at Brooke and Tennyson and also other poets who believed in what Owen referred to as the old lie. He seems to be saying to them that if you had seen the real war then you would not be so confident telling kids Horace motto. The final 4 lines are a very strong note on which to end a poem and so this is why I think that Owen chose these as his closing lines. Throughout this essay I have shown the changing attitudes to war through the ages from the Crimean war and Alfred Lord Tennyson through to the WW2 attitude of Wilfred Owen. The attitude of Owen is an attitude to war that is maintained today. VI I ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level War Poetry section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level War Poetry essays

  1. Peer reviewed

    The World of words in Wilfred Owens Anthem For Doomed Youth and Dulce Et ...

    5 star(s)

    Furthermore, the last two lines of the octet are transition lines: they prepare you for the sestet by slowing the pace and softening the tone, I QUOTE 'And bugles calling for them from sad shires' I UN-QUOTE. The poem is divided into two different ideas.

  2. Peer reviewed

    "With Specific focus on Wilfred Owen poems Disabled, Mental cases, Dulce et Decorum est, ...

    4 star(s)

    In which he overtly criticises her work, as she encouraged people to join the war effort and that it was good to fight for your country, she made it seem as if you had to. "For there's only one course to pursue, Your country is up to her neck in a fight."

  1. Comparison of 'The Soldier' was written by Wilfred Owen and 'Dulce et Decorum est' ...

    "If I should die, think only this of me:" He could be speaking to the British public here to encourage them to view soldiers' deaths as glorious, worthwhile, dignified, victorious and fitting. He does not think that it is a waste of life as "there's some corner of a foreign field that is for ever England."

  2. Compare and contrast Rupert Brooke's 'The Soldier' with Wilfred Owen's 'Dulce et Decorum Est'

    that those who enter war, those who actually participate and experience war at its worst, for them there is no return to normality, or indeed humanity. Wilfred Owen begins his poem with the description soldiers describing them as 'old beggars under sacks coughing like hags'.

  1. Based on the Poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen.

    What is so beautiful about this poem is its ability to move the reader. The poem is an example of writing graphically and from the gut, while adhering to a prevailing, or accepted form. Poetry does not have to be pretty, however some poets do not seem to realize this fact.

  2. Comparing Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen with The Soldier by Rupert Brooke.

    in the readers mind so as to add to the general impact and message of the poem. In order to help him describe the different aspects of war, Owen utilises the technique of altering the rhythm of the different stanzas according to what he is trying to make the reader feel.

  1. What is meant by the term 'The Blitz'.

    However there was some radio shows designed to demoralise the enemy. A man named Screaming Lord Haw Haw was used to demoralise the British, he was a British fascist, people tuned into this show to find out what the allies were hiding and also for fun.

  2. The Theme of the Pity of War in "Dulce Et Decorum Est" and "Anthem ...

    For example, he uses alliteration of ?m? in ?men, march? and ?many?, to allow us to hear the marching of the soldiers, as well as conjuring up images of missiles hitting the ground. In addition to this he uses onomatopoeia when describing the dying man who is ?guttering, choking, drowning?,

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work