Dulce Et Decorum Est

2255 Words Dec 10th, 2007 10 Pages
«Dulce et decorum est», Wilfred Owen (1917, 1920)

«Dulce et decorum est» is a poem written by British poet Wilfred Owen, during World War one, in 1917. The translation of the Latin title is: «It is sweet and proper». The completed sentence is as follows: «It is sweet and proper to die for one's country». This forms, what the writer refers to as, «The old Lie». The poem holds a strong criticism towards the conventional view of war at that written time. I shall now comment briefly on that time's traditional ideas of war and heroism. Further on, I shall have a concise look at some information about the author and his context. Then, I would like to put to light the perception of war introduced by Owen in this poem, and thereby, show how
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After telling that they «flung» the dying soldier in a wagon, there follows a vivid explanation of what the gas is doing to him; «...blood come gargling from the froth corrupted lungs». The poem ends with a plea to stop telling «The old lie: Dulce et decorum Est Pro Patria mori».

Through the text, Owen uses a lot of horrific and vivid imagery. This is used to give a realistic description of a soldier's first hand experience of war, and the physical and mental state the soldiers were in. The news about the war was heavily censured, Owen, however, did not censure any of the information given in the poem. We are given an authentic situation and real war-conditions.

As early as in the first line of the poem, we can see the attack of the traditional ideas about war and heroism. Owen starts off by portraying, what probably was a majority of young men, as «Bent double, like old beggars under sacks». The speaker uses the adjective old to describe young men. Starting the poem with this contrasting description immediately corrects the picture people had of soldiers standing erect, and fighting proudly and heroically. The picture is quite the opposite, as he continues to describe them as «knock-kneed». Adding to the description, Owen says that the men are wounded, «limping on, bloodshot». The men were battle-weary and had most likely been days without any rest. Even so, they still were forced to go on to escape death.

The setting of the battlefield, and the means of
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