Dulce et Decorum Est



Based on the Poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owens



The poem is one of the most powerful ways to convey an idea or

opinion. Through vivid imagery and compelling metaphors, the poem

gives the reader the exact feeling the author wanted. The poem "Dulce

et Decorum Est," an anti-war poem by Wilfred Owen, makes great use of

these devices. This poem is very effective because of its excellent

manipulation of the mechanical and emotional parts of poetry. Owen's

use of exact diction and vivid figurative language emphasizes his

point, showing that war is terrible and devastating. Furthermore, the

utilization of extremely graphic imagery adds even more to his

argument. Through the effective use of all three of these tools, this

poem conveys a strong meaning and persuasive argument.

The poem's use of excellent diction helps to more clearly

define what the author is saying. Words like "guttering", "choking",

and "drowning" not only show how the man is suffering, but that he is

in terrible pain that no human being should endure. Other words like

writhing and froth-corrupted say precisely how the man is being

tormented. Moreover, the phrase "blood shod" shows how the troops

have been on their feet for days, never resting. Also, the fact that

the gassed man was "flung" into the wagon reveals the urgency and

occupation with fighting. The only thing they can do is toss him into

a wagon. The fact one word can add to the meaning so much shows how

the diction of this poem adds greatly to its effectiveness.

Likewise, the use of figurative language in this poem also

helps to emphasize the points that are being made. As Perrine says,

people use metaphors because they say "...what we want to say more

vividly and forcefully..." Owen capitalizes greatly on this by using

strong metaphors and similes. Right off in the first line, he

describes the troops as being "like old beggars under sacks." This

not only says that they are tired, but that they are so tired they

have been brought down to the level of beggars who have not slept in a

bed for weeks on end. Owen also compares the victim's face to the

devil, seeming corrupted and baneful. A metaphor even more effective

is one that compares "...vile, incurable sores..." with the memories

of the troops. It not only tells the reader how the troops will never

forget the experience, but also how they are frightening tales, ones

that will the troops will never be able to tell without remembering

the extremely painful experience. These comparisons illustrate the

point so vividly that they increase the effectiveness of the poem.

The most important means of developing the effectiveness of

the poem is the graphic imagery. They evoke such emotions so as to

cause people to become sick. The images can draw such pictures that

no other poetic means can, such as in line twenty-two: "Come gargling

from the froth corrupted lungs." This can be disturbing to think

about. It shows troops being brutally slaughtered very vividly,

evoking images in the reader's mind. In the beginning of the poem the

troops were portrayed as "drunk with fatigue." With this you can

almost imagine large numbers of people dragging their boots through

the mud, tripping over their own shadow. Later in the poem when the

gas was dropped, it painted a psychological image that would disturb

the mind. The troops were torn out of their nightmarish walk and

surrounded by gas bombs. How everyone, in "an ecstasy of fumbling"

was forced to run out into the mist, unaware of their fate. Anyone

wanting to fight in a war would become nervous at the image of himself

running out into a blood bath. The graphic images displayed here are

profoundly affecting and can never be forgotten.

The poem ties it all together in the last few lines. In

Latin, the phrase "Dulce et decorum est pro partria mori" means: "It

is sweet and becoming to die for one's country." Owen calls this a lie

by using good diction, vivid comparisons, and graphic images to have

the reader feel disgusted at what war is capable of. This poem is

extremely effective as an anti-war poem, making war seem absolutely

horrid and revolting, just as the author wanted it to.