Analysis of "Dulce et Decorum Est"

Essay by ookrnooUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, February 2006

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With the little Latin I have picked up and the high school Spanish I can incorporate into Wilfred Owen's poem, "Dulce Et Decorum Est", I have come to decipher the title in such a way that it means, "it is sweet and right". Through first impression and no research, my thoughts head straight for the dinner table of delectable deserts and royal etiquette. The image of food and dining precipitate in my head. Yet, skimming through the poem and engaging in an initial search for historical background, I have found a differing ground of meaning, one of war and despair. Using a multitude of literary devices, shifts in syntax, and prevalent themes, Owen successfully conveys the filth of war to expose the unsightly and realistic image the First World War.

Owen allows the reader to fully understand his poem through the ability to paraphrase it, truncating the meaning stanza by stanza, line by line.

The narrator visualizes the first stanza integrating the reader as a participant. Bending over, hiding behind makeshift barriers, mud ridden and sick from the stench of the horrid environment, the reader is introduced to the war-like surroundings painted by words. The narrator relates an image of bombs flying, men jumping to their knees, and the never ending motion and anxiety residing in each soldiers' body. The men move without sleep in an insolent march as if it were rhythmic breathing, not stopping for lost boots, helmets, or other protective gear. Depraved and wounded, they keep going with no knowledge of the war's length or why the fight. The soldiers can only hear explosives sounding behind them leaving their ears ringing. Stanza one introduces the reader top the everyday, every-minute life of the war-bound soldier, a time of misery and treachery.

Stanza two changes...