Wilfred Owen chose the title “Dulce et Decorum Est” to disapprove its lie and reveal the sarcasm and irony. Calling the readers “my friend,” Owen discourages the “children’s” beliefs in the old lie. Experiencing the devastation of war, Owen got inspired by the intense feelings and emotions to write it out. As a former teacher Owen was completely terrified when he saw the terrible things happening to his young comrades, no different to the children Owen once taught. His use of rhymes, vivid language and imagery phrases point out his expression. The poem describes the fatigue, blindness, death, sufferings, and horrors of war.
It shows the everlasting painful conditions of a soldier “bent double”, “trudging” through mud with bloody feet and blind eyes, cautious to every second, aware of the death beyond death. Moreover worse, ill with fatal wounds and poisoned lungs. This poem gives a big lead to criticisms to those who would influence war as time for glory. As a poem with an anti-war subject, Owen creates a serious tone with both slow emotional trudging and hasty action. He writes with a battlefield rhythm. This affects the extreme portrayal of war as horrid and dreadful. Owen wanted the reader to take out of the poem the feelings he had placed in it writing.
In stanza one Owen wrote with a flowing tone including commas and full stops and separating different lines to make the reader feel it out line by line. It described the daily situation for the soldiers in trenches. For the last stanza Owen used the present continuous tense, omitting full stops to give the sense to the reader that this is happening right now next to them. Finally he added rhyme like any other poem to give it a poetic tone. Starting off with the line, “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,” tells us how the glorious uniforms of the proud soldiers turned into dirty, torn up sacks similar to the ones a beggar wear.
Line 20, “His hanging face like a devil’s sick of sin,” conveys how untruthful it is to die for country this way and that the war is worse than the devil itself. Such lines and similes tell the readers what has become of the soldiers who went to the war and the shameful lack of glory of war, opposite to the fame youths dreamed of. The poems written details of the emotions, thoughts and sights of the soldier may not be as precise for the reader as Owen’s. On this occasion Owen chose similes to provide enough detail for the reader to deliver the idea and images. His similes are highly connected with his images.
Through the images he tried to associate war with other parts of human sufferings that one may know, even a person who has never experienced war. The reader’s emotional and physical reaction towards this poem will support how effective the author’s use of imagery is in this poem. The images “drunk with fatigue,” and “coughing like hags,” states that the men are in deep tiredness and sick with “cancer. ” Stanza two was brought in with the yell of “gas” and panic which are described as an “ecstasy of fumbling. ” Images in the second stanza, “Green Sea,” and “like a man in a fire and lime” give the intense color of the scene, green.
As it is hard for anyone to imagine the devil, Owen brings in an image in the last stanza that is beyond one’s mind to picture, “Like a devil’s sick of sin. ” This tells how horrible the war must be even for the devil to be tired of the sin All these images clearly defines the war as a not time or place for honor and glory. In stanza four Owen chose words such as “incurable,” “bitter” and “writhing” to give the impossibility of recovery for the damage on the “innocent tongues,” the poor soldiers with innocence and purity.
Also lots of words with “ing” endings have been included, exemplified by “guttering,” “choking” and “drowning. ” These words helped to achieve the image and struggle of a man dying in gas. The pain and misery which flowed through his body constantly as he plunged at Owen. One of the most powerful words that was chosen was “gargling”. Simply the pronunciation of the word on its own could give the image and sound of the scene. Words such as “writhing” and “froth-corrupted” gives strong detail in a very short format. Similarly the word “flung” assumes the urgency or carelessness for the soldiers in the battle.
These kinds of words give an effect on the poem’s intensity. The poem bears strong emphasis of an irony to the old lie “Dulce Et Decorum Est. ” As an educated man Wilfred Owen was able to recognize the lie and propaganda by the government towards the soldiers. His purpose to unleash the sarcastic significance of “Dulce Et Decorum Est,” was successfully scripted through his poetic technique, language, imagery and similes. Overall the poem lets the world know about the devastation and terror of the wars in the past yet, inspires us to discourage the war in the present and the future.