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.