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Dulce Et Decorum Est

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Dulce et Decorum Est

What makes this poem so great is it's ability to move the reader. By using strong words, symbolic images, and unpleasant situations, it keeps the reader's attention and focuses their mind. Although Wilfred Owen (1893-1918) manages to bring forth these literary techniques, he also keeps to a poetic frame, using rhyme to almost give the poem a musical beat. By far the nearest thing that I can think of is that it almost feels like you are marching through the poem, slowly drudging into what these poor boys had to call daily life. The irony of the poem is almost incomprehensible.

Owen uses vocabulary that quickly shifts the reader's frame of mind. Although it starts off in the first stanza as him almost telling a story, soon it changes, to where we are actually there, in the story. For instance, the first stanza is full of past-tense verbs: "lost their boots," "turned our backs," "cursted through sludge." But the second stanza, almost as if we are all reliving his nightmares, switches to present tense: "GAS! GAS! Quick boys!," "I saw him drowning." By making this change, it makes the poem feel more alive. He also uses the word "haunting" in the first stanza, an interesting choice of words. Perhaps it is to show us that he is still haunted by the demons of the war?

Owen uses irony in the poem, too. Although we get the impression that the soldiers have had a hard life, by the end of the first stanza we think that their time up front is over, because they are heading to the rear for rest. But that's when the gas hits them...

Owen brings us into his life in the third stanza, which is short. But it is short to prove his point: he will never get rid of this horrible sight, of the poor man without a gas mask dying in front of him. He wants the reader to remember this, that it will never go away for him, or any of the other veterans who do make it out alive from the war. Although the World War I ended almost a century ago in 1918, those same fears and horrible sights are present with the soldiers who came back from World War II, Korea, and Viet Nam.

The title of the poem is aimed directly at those that have never actually seen war, yet seem to speak of it with such authority that they have seen it. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori is a latin phrase meaning "How



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