“Dulce et Decorum Est” By Wilfred Owen Critical essay – Callum Kaczynski “Dulce et Decorum Est” is a truly inspiring poem written by Wilfred Owen. As a former soldier, Owen’s poetic exploration conveys the shocking reality of war, and his anger towards the destruction and devastation it causes. The physical state of the soldiers after war creates a pitiful sense of despair. “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks.” This simile shows that they may be seeking desperate help, rest, peace and shelter. At one point they were young, fit men, and now they are worn and weak.
"Knock-kneed" is a condition that makes knees hit together when walking. Owen employed this in his poem to show the reader how tired the soldiers were. They could not stand up and walk straight because they had already "cursed through sludge" for many miles. He also utilized the phrase "blood shod", which is when a horseshoe gets put on too hard and the horse's hoofs start to bleed. This exhibited the physical pain that the soldiers were going through.
In the first stanza, Owen presents the idea that the personal struggles faced every moment on the front line are extremely underestimated, immeasurably terrifying and “obscene”. It seems more realistic when the story is told from a first person narrative; it allows us, the readers, to imagine what it would feel like if “we” were in the trenches and fighting on the front line. That understanding makes us realise the cruel situation that was, for them, an everyday occurrence from which they had no escape. The determination of the soldiers that they “limped on” even when they were “asleep”, “had lost their boots”, were “lame”, “blind”, “drunk with fatigue” and “deaf” to their “distant rest” makes it almost seem as if they were unbreakable; their defiance against anything thrown in their path was god-like and shows an unwavering sense of honour, as they “marched” and “cursed through”, for the fate of all those left at home. The distant rest could represent the end of the war, so far out of their sight, or the release of an untimely death.
In the beginning of the poem the soldier starts to reminisce about his past. The cyclical nature of the poem is appropriate as it emphasises the pain and the nightmares that are continuously in his mind, giving him no peace or respite. “Poured it down shell-holes till the veins ran dry… a leap of purple spurted from his thigh.” This image when contrasted to the images of his previous life, serves to create a sense of loss for the young. The injury still to this day causes him pain when he thinks about the life he could have had. The soldier reflects on his “youthful” days which effectively exposes Owen’s perspective on the aftermath of war.
Owen compares soldiers fighting in war to sick old men because it shows that soldiers are like outcasts from society. At the top left of the poster, the image shown represents the difficulty and the terrible physical outcomes, soldiers found travelling on ground particularly in sludges as Wilfred Owen states in the first stanza: “Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge” The use of the word Knock-kneed is alliteration for emphasis, a hard, staccato sound to echo the harsh mood of these lines and soldier’s misery. It stresses echo the brutality of the soldiers’ destruction, their transformation from healthy young men into ‘beggars’ and ‘hags’. The use of the word coughing compares men to sick women, showing how they are unrecognisable; they have lost their masculinity, youth, health and therefore are now deemed to be outcast’s within the society. The word sludge is onomatopoeia to imply how heavy and difficult the ground is to cross for soldiers.
Dulce Et Decorum Est – Wilfred Owen Wilfred Owen’s poem, Dulce Et Decorum Est is a tendentious poem about the harsh realities of World War I; throughout his poems he shows his hatred for the Generals and commanding officers. In this poem he describes his memories of physical horror, and how many soldiers had been mislead about the “glory” of war. It should also be noted that this poem is in first person, and Owen is recalling the event, also the event in just one moment of time. The poem is split into four different stanzas, in the first stanza he shows how weak the soldiers were due to the horrific effects of the war. In the first line he starts off by using a hyperbole to show how badly the soldiers were affected: like old beggars under sacks, this shows that even though these men were supposed to be the ‘cream of the crop’ so to speak, they were being compared to beggars under sacks.
There were also a lot of gas attacks. Owen really tries to get the reader to understand how bad it was by using horrid imaginary by telling us how tired the soldiers were by writing ‘Men march asleep’ and ‘Drunk with fatigue’ and of his description of watching a soldier dying because he couldn’t get his gas mask on in time of a gas attack. Owen poem is so descriptive that when reading it, you can imagine it in your mind playing like a film whilst reading it. The poem begins with the simile ‘Bent double like old sacks, knock-kneed coughing like hags’ we imagine the soldiers walking slowly like the elderly due to tiredness, and bent double due to all the equipment that they carried at the time with the sounds of five-nines exploding around them. ‘Coughing like hags’ the conditions was not great in the trenches in World War 1, it was full of diseases and the weather conditions would make fighting a great deal harder.
Dulce ET Decorum EST “Dulce et Decorum Est” is a powerful poem by Wilfred Owen which depicts the horrific conditions endured by young soldiers during World War One. The poem is divided into four sections: a description of the numbed, shell shocked conditions as they struggle to return from the frontline, an account of a gas attack, its haunting effects on Owen and a plea not to glorify war. Owens’s use of vivid imagery is particularly interesting in Verse one. For example the soldiers are described as “knocked kneed coughing like hags”. This is good word choice because it shows us how the men are suffering and that they are tired.
This emphasises the idea that the soldiers with shellshock are in a state of their own mind and keeps them in an unhealthy mental state. Owen uses another rhetorical question in the quote “Stroke on stroke of pain, -- but what slow panic, Gouged these chasms round their fretted sockets?” these quotes concentrate on the imagery of the soldier and pictures the soldier in constant pain that is caused by the terrible memories stuck in their mind. The final rhetorical question used in the first stanza by Owen is used in the
As soon as you got in the gas chamber the drill sergeants made you take off your gas mask. Within a few seconds the gas would then hit you. It was almost unbearable; your eyes would start burning and would tear up, snot would start running from your nose like the Niagara Falls, and you felt like you was just going to die. All of this in mind, it was downright hilarious to watch other soldiers coming out of the