Dulce Et Decorum Est Poem Evaluation

1508 words - 6 pages

Wilfred Owen's poem, Dulce et decorum est is a highly appropriate addition to the historical society's compilations of poems, as it accurately describes the horrors of the war rather than the glory that is associated with it. This is conveyed accurately by Owen, through a variety of language techniques. It reveals an attitude towards war that is contrary to the general opinion that war is a glorifying experience. Owen utilizes a number of poetic techniques, particularly focusing on language choice, imagery and personification to convey his attitudes of disgust and contempt for war.Owens' creative use of figurative language produces harsh images, relating to the brutalities of war. One of the most important aspects of the poem is its graphic imagery. This contributes to the effect of the poem and allows the reader to see the gruesome and disturbing images of war. Imagery has an overwhelming effect on the meaning of the poem, but so does its structure. Each line has a fair length to it, creating a slow rhythm relative to the overall mood of the poem, thus allowing the reader to picture images relating to the horrible aspects of war. Owen's use of specific words and vivid language emphasizes his point, showing that war is terrible and devastating. The use of extremely graphic imagery adds even more to his argument. Through compelling imagery, sound devices like alliteration and onomatopoeia, the mood and increasing tension of the poem is strongly expressed.The title, in Latin, "Dulce et decorum est", means that "It is sweet and honourable to die for one's country". The title itself is ironic as it is referring to the horrors of war.In the first stanza of the poem the pace is slow and a painstaking rhythm is established through Owen's use of heavy, long words. This illustrates how painstaking and slow the war was. The first phrase 'Bent double,' is a hyperbole which creates the impression of exhaustion and the image that is conveyed is that the soldiers are in agony. This is not at all how most people would think of soldiers; instead of proud and tall, marching back from victory, they are compared to old beggars. It underlines the fact that they are physically fatigued. 'Like old beggars under sacks' illustrates that the soldiers have no dignity left. It conjures the image of very dirty, disgusting tramps, who have a nauseating stench. The mood of the poem is thus effectively and wittingly portrayed by this first line. The second line of the poem illustrates the physical condition that the soldiers were in. The alliteration 'Knock-kneed' slows and dulls down the tempo greatly. Using the word "cursed", an image that the soldiers were struggling and exhausted is again created. It goes on to say 'coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge'. This, once again, is in total contrast to the expected portrayal of a soldier. 'Coughing like hags' makes them sound old and weary, with none of the pride and health of brave young men. In the third line, the...

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