Compare the poems and comment on how the way Owen and Southey convey
their attitude towards war - Dulce et Decorum Est
'Dulce et Decorum Est' tells the story of how Wilfred Owen experiences
world war first hand and tells of his bitter angst towards the
government who try to persuade young men to join the army.
Owen developed many of his poetic techniques at Craiglockhart Military
Hospital where he spent much of the war as an injured soldier, and was
able to express his ideas and feelings on paper
He uses the Latin phrase 'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori,' which
translates into 'it is sweet and glorious to die for one's country.'
Owen tells of how this phrase is wrong, how it is not glorious to
experience the harsh reality of war with the explosions and the
screeching of missiles, which he saw with his own eyes. The phrase is
deceptive to the men that are called up as they look to help their
country and believe that it is something to die for.
The poem begins with a slow rhythm through the use of heavy, long
words, in order to illustrate how slow and painstaking war was. Owens
view on war is that it is a dangerous thing to do and using a Latin
phrase is just a way of recruiting more troops. He states,
"My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori"
'My friend' refers to another war poet, Jessie Pope, who had a
completely different aspect on war. Owen emphasises the word 'lie' as
he fully believes that the phrase is one.
The poem begins with the lines,
"Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge"
This gives the audience a picture of soldiers with heavy bags on their
backs, pulling themselves through mud whilst coughing with cold. It
already begins to dawn on us that warfare is a terrible thing to be
Owen then continues to give the audience a mental picture when
describing the sounds and noises of war.
"Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired outstripped five-nines that dropped behind"
This tells us that the soldiers are struggling to walk as they are
tired and oblivious to the noise of bombs, missiles and gunshots.
Owen also uses similes and metaphors to compare certain things and
really give an image.
"His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin"
The second stanza starts with the only speech of the whole poem:
"Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!"
It tells of a gas attack and how all the soldiers fumble and stumble
to get their helmets on in time. All manage but one, who Owen sees
reaching out to him and yelling, and how he was unable to do anything
and could not help. He uses the lines to describe this:
"In all my dreams before my helpless sight
He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning."
These are strong lines that slowly close the second stanza. The final
verse slows the poem suddenly right down as the death of the...