The Face of Death: Explication of a Passage in “Dulce Et Decorum Est”

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My friend, you would not tell with such high zest / To children ardent for some desperate glory, / The old Lie; Dulce et Decorum est / Pro patria mori (Owen, lines 25-28). This segment of Owen’s poem depicts one of his comrades being poisoned by tear gas; this is clearly not a pleasant sight and is not wished upon anyone. This is of particular interest to me because it depicts the morbid horror of war. I believe the poem does a fine job of communicating the horrors of war much better than other modes of literature may be able to. It also challenges a lot of the idealistic feelings people have towards those who have made the ultimate sacrifice. The stanza comes at the end of the poem after the men labored hard and rucked through…show more content…
The tone of the poem is morbid and solemn. This creates the mood that making the ultimate sacrifice is nothing glorious. This may be incredibly apparent to us today, but in Owen’s time, people thought of war as a glorious battle of good triumphing over evil. However, the tone created by Owen asking the reader to consider if he would tell his children of the glories of war tells us otherwise. The words that Owen uses contribute to the tone. By using “ardent” and “desperate,” we can see though the tone that it is a lie that giving the ultimate sacrifice is something that should be avoided at all costs. By referencing “children,” Owen makes the reader look at the fact that many people going off to war were as young as 15 years old and had not grown up. Owen is attempting to uncover the tragedy of the loss of life by young children in the war. Had Owen written the poem in a different tone, readers might believe that dying for one’s country is a noble cause. However, the tone darkens towards the end and confirms that Owen is trying to teach us that war is evil and one should not aspire to die defending his country. The horrors of World War One cannot be denied; it was a gory war with hundreds of thousands of deaths. What Owen is trying to convey is that many people are under the false impression that war is glorious; however, that is simply not the case. Owen is attempting to warn people that are at risk of buying into the nationalistic ideals of wanting to fight for

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