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Dulce Et Decorum Est Explication

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Ashley Hill

Mrs. Jenkins

English 2110-03I

25 March 2018

The poem Dulce Et Decorum Est dramatizes a couple of different themes and conflicts. They are the condition of the soldiers’ wellbeing in warfare, post-traumatic stress that comes from the experiences of war and the conflict of the glorification and propaganda of dying for your country. The speaker is a soldier who is explaining the reason why the audience should not believe the propaganda of the glorification of dying in war. The speaker feels compelled to state his voice on this subject because he experienced war first-hand. This was proven by the memory he shared with the audience of a fellow soldier dying in gas attack. This gave him the wisdom to know better than the lie the public was promoting. The line at the end of the poem, “Dulce et decorum est/ Pro patria mori” was another factor that compelled the speaker since this is translated to “It is sweet and fitting/ to die for one’s country”. The speaker gets his point across by personification of inanimate object and the inhumane side of being a soldier. For a moment, the speaker’s location seems to be in past memories of the war.

The poem’s form is ballade with the metrical feet of iambic pentameter. The rhyme scheme is ABAB. This means that the last words in the first line and third line rhyme, as well as the last words in the second line and fourth line. It is because of the metrical feet of iambic that it flows so well and sounds as natural as speaking. This really helps the reading of this poem out loud sound less tense and more comfortable.

The poet, Wilfred Owen, has the speaker bring up the Latin phrase “Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori.” This comes from the Roman poet whose name was Horace. That line was included in a poem in his book Odes. The speaker called it “the old Lie” and considering Horace was born in 8 BC it is quite an old perspective. This fact proves the profound amount of time that this way of thinking has been the normal. This speaker used words that gave a visual to the audience. The personification of both the “tired” 5.9-inch caliber shells and the “clumsy” helmets. It gave the audience a visual thought of gas shells that maybe are also tired of such a long, on-going war and of soldiers fumbling around to put their gas masks on time before the gas attacks occur. Other words that the speaker uses are “plunges”, “smothering dreams” and “guttering” when he was speaking of the memory of the fellow soldier who had died in war, a memory that was reoccurring to him in nightmares.

One of the best descriptive wording occurs when the speaker is illustrating the picture of the soldier’s conditions. “Bent double, like old beggars under sack,/ knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through the sludge/ Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs/ And towards our distant rest began to trudge./ Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots/ But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;/Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots/ Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind.” It brings the audience to see soldiers who are so tired, they seem to not even be bothered by the war going on around them. It is the last part that wraps up the meaning of the poem. The speaker spends the poem explaining how awful war is and how horrid it was to watch a soldier die for his country and it brings him to a certain conclusion. That is if the public who spends their time telling people how just it is to fight in a war, if they experienced what he did and if they could have this reoccurring nightmare of a very real incident, then there is no way they could tell someone that it is in fact “sweet and fitting” to die fighting for their country in a war



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