Dulce et Decorum Est

Essay by Solle November 2014

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2. "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen

"Dulce et Decorum Est" is written by Wilfred Owen, a poet who was participating in World War 1. He experienced the battlefield and grew disillusioned with the war, as he faced the gruesome truth. He came home in 1917 with broken nerves, however he returned to war because he wanted to help other soldiers. Unfortunately, he died just a day before Armistice Day. Owen wrote a few poems before his death and one of them is a very known war poem called "Dulce et Decorum Est". The first draft of the poem was actually dedicated to another poet, named Jessie Pope. She wrote; "Who's for the game?" where war is described as a game, and that you'd miss out of all the fun if you didn't join the army. Owen meant his poem to be a rebuke of Jessie Pope, who encouraged young men to enlist war, not knowing what horrors they would be facing.

In the first stanza, Owen writes from the perspective of a group of soldiers who are compared as "knock-kneed" and "old beggars". These impairments contradict how other people saw the image of soldiers at that time. The soldiers weren't agile or healthy, but instead they were compared with beggars and hags. In the second and third stanza the speaker is shifted from a group to just one of them, a soldier. He describes a gas attack with words like "stumbling", "floundering" and "drowning". Owen also wisely chose these words, as he wants us to really see behind the glorified tales of war, and see the other side where the soldier's experiences are horrible and far less glorious than how many poets portrayed it. In conclusion, the speaker is using...