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Analysis Of Dulce Decorum Est

1080 words - 4 pages

Nightmare under a Green SeaIn 1914 a war which has since been called the "Great" War caused more than 9.5 million victims over a 52 month period. This is approximatively 5,600 men a day. While the persons who were not part of the action could say that the soldiers were acting patriotically, the soldiers were living a true horror. Wilfred Owen, who was an officer in the British Army during the World War I, offers a real testimony of what the war could look like in his poem "Dulce et Decorum Est". Let's see what someone who lived the nightmares of the war has to express about his experience."Dulce et Decorum Est"(Owen 277) is a Latin sentence that means : "Sweet and Fitting it is". It is the first line of an ode written by the Roman poet Horace. In the first stanza Owen says that the soldiers were "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks" (Owen 277). This first sentence is a simile that the author uses to tell the reader how exhausted and hopeless the soldiers were.Their legs were curved inward at the knees by the fatigue. The soldiers were coughing like evil looking old women or "hags"(Owen 277). The poet says that they turned back while they were still under the fire of "haunting flares"(Owen 277). Flares were used in World War 1 to light up certain regions where there could be targets or men. The line " And towards our distant rest began to trudge"(Owen 277) expresses how painful it was for them to walk to their camp. The use of the word "trudge" instead of "walk" emphasizes how difficult it was for them to move. The sentence also places the speaker of the poem inside this group of soldiers. To make the reader feel the pain, the fatigue, and "enter" the poem, Owen adds details that create images such as "Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots", and "blood-shod"(Owen 277). The speaker even says that the soldiers, "Drunk with fatigue," ignored the sound of the shells through the air. And finally they get further than the range of the 5.9 inch calibre explosive shells ("Five-Nines"(Owen 277)).In the second stanza the relative calm of the first stanza is completely gone. The poet begins the stanza with a direct dialogue: " Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!"(Owen 277). The soldiers were under a gas attack. The metaphor "An ecstacy of fumbling,"(Owen 277) expresses the way that the soldiers acted because of adrenaline. They saved their lives using the only thing that they had against the gas attacks, their "clumsy helmets"(Owen 277), gas masks. In the next line the "But"(Owen 277) tells all there is to know; someone wasn't fast enough to put his gas mask on. Again, the narrator is very descriptive about the scene. He literally shows us how the person who breathed the mustard gas reacted. He says that the soldier was staggering, yelling, and moving like someone in fire (Owen 277). Then the speaker seems to tell exactly what the soldiers saw through their "misty panes"(Owen 277). He also says that the image was tinted in green because of the chlorine gas....

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