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Dulce Et Decorum Est by Wilfred Owen

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Considered to be Owens most powerful and tragic war time poem, Dulce Et Decorum Est is vivid and graphic in its imagery and assonance. Owen served as a second lieutenant with the Manchester regiment during the First World War and suffered shell shock as a result of his horrific experiences. His poetry is considered to bear the influence of another great war poet, Siegfried Sassoon, whom Owen regarded with respect not far from hero worship. In the poem, Owen serves to portray the horrors of war rather than the illusion of glory perpetrated by many in Britain, possibly drawing upon his experiences on the front during the battle of the Somme.

The poem is written in a loose iambic pentameter witch an ABAB rhyme scheme. This serves to emphasise the inescapable harshness of their situation as the scheme seems to mirror the obdurate immovability of the circumstances surrounding the soldiers. It also heightens the sarcasm and bitterness as this rhyme scheme usually serves to enhance the beauty of a poem yet in this case it only increases the sense of anguish and horror by contrasting with the content. There isn’t really a sense of rhythm in the poem but that serves the poem well as the seriousness of its sound reflects the tone of the writing. The structure of the first two stanza is a loose sonnet format which again is a contrast as it is usually used in love poems because it is considered to be beautiful, whereas the content of the poem is about as far from love as one can get.

The theme of the horror of war perpetuates the poem from start to finish, beginning with the title Dulce Et Decorum Est Pro Patria Mori, which translates from Latin to “it is sweet and honourable to die for ones country”. This title serves to increase the irony and pathos of the poem as it is sets a mockingly sarcastic and almost bitter tone to the poem as the first line contradicts the sentiment from the offset. “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks” doesn’t immediately inspire images of glory and honour in the reader. Indeed much of his imagery serves only to sicken and disgust the reader “White eyes writhing in his face” and set a dark foreboding tone.

The tempo of

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