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Dulce et Decorum Est [Not] Pro Patria Mori

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Dulce et Decorum Est [Not] Pro Patria Mori Dulce et Decorum Est is a poem by Wilfred Owen that has deepened my understanding of war, in particular of the First World War when this work is set. The poem focuses on a gas attack and its aftermath and in this essay I intend to show how Owen's use of poetic techniques and choice of content add to my own comprehension of this event, and of war more generally. From Owen's description of the soldiers in his poem we can deduce that they have been broken by the war. The men who march away from the battlefield at the start of the poem, surely, did not march onto it in the same desperate state of ill-health. Owen's troops are the opposite of what you would expect them to be; the stereotype is of smart, proud, strong men not of "old beggars under sacks" as Owen describes them (their uniforms, once crisp and clean, are now dirty and over large). ...read more.


So, the injury - both physical and psychological - that Owen reveals in Dulce et Decorum Est as a consequence of war can also lead to hatred across society. Ultimately though, I think it is not the civilian that Owen blames for the misery of war but rather the politician. The use of the second person singular is certainly effective in pointing the finger although it is someone ambiguous. Perhaps you, the "you [that] could hear, at every jolt, the blood come gargling...", is not intended to be anyone other those responsible for engineering the war. It seems to me that what Owen really wants to emphasise in Dulce et Decorum Est is that it was the soldiers on the Front Line who paid the price of the war - with their lives. The dead man's face, "his hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin" is an image designed never to leave the reader's mind. ...read more.


It is an anti-war poem and I believe that this is the sentiment which can still be considered in the context of modern society. I have always had a deep rooted sense that war is wrong and studying Dulce et Decorum Est has affirmed this view in me. The points Owen makes in the poem, which he presents so effectively with his use of a range of poetic techniques, support my view that we must find alternative solutions to global disputes. They said that there would never be another war in Europe after the First World War - it had been so horrific - yet since then there have been many more. To think that Wilfred Owen was killed in the Great War, just one week before the end, and that he could have lived to be one of the Greatest British poets of all time - given the skill with which Dulce et Decorum Est is written - for me is the final blow the poem makes: war can destroy genius when it destroys life. ...read more.

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