Dulce Et Decorum Est Critical Essay Plan

Dulce Et Decorum Est Critical Essay Plan-25
All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of gas-shells dropping softly behind. If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,— My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: . ’ Although he drafted the poem that October, the surviving drafts of ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ show that Owen revised and revisited it on several occasions thereafter, before his death the following November – one week before the Armistice.In October 1917, Wilfred Owen wrote to his mother from Craiglockhart Hospital: ‘Here is a gas poem, done yesterday…….famous Latin tag (from Horace, Odes) means of course it is sweet and meet to die for one’s country. Although he wrote all his poetry while he was still a young man – he died aged just 25, like the poet he so admired, John Keats – Wilfred Owen was a master of form and metre, although the extent to which ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ is carefully structured is not necessarily apparent from reading it (and certainly not from hearing it read aloud).The opening of the poem places the action on the western front in France during World War I amid a rundown group of soldiers who are compared to beggars. Readers, like the soldiers, are engulfed in the gory aftermath of the attack right from the onset. “Misty panes” add a surreal, delirious-like mood to the situation as if it were being seen clearly yet distorted at the same time.

All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of gas-shells dropping softly behind. If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace Behind the wagon that we flung him in, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin; If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, Obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues,— My friend, you would not tell with such high zest To children ardent for some desperate glory, The old Lie: . ’ Although he drafted the poem that October, the surviving drafts of ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ show that Owen revised and revisited it on several occasions thereafter, before his death the following November – one week before the Armistice.In October 1917, Wilfred Owen wrote to his mother from Craiglockhart Hospital: ‘Here is a gas poem, done yesterday…….famous Latin tag (from Horace, Odes) means of course it is sweet and meet to die for one’s country. Although he wrote all his poetry while he was still a young man – he died aged just 25, like the poet he so admired, John Keats – Wilfred Owen was a master of form and metre, although the extent to which ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ is carefully structured is not necessarily apparent from reading it (and certainly not from hearing it read aloud).The opening of the poem places the action on the western front in France during World War I amid a rundown group of soldiers who are compared to beggars. Readers, like the soldiers, are engulfed in the gory aftermath of the attack right from the onset. “Misty panes” add a surreal, delirious-like mood to the situation as if it were being seen clearly yet distorted at the same time.

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Even after he physically witnessed the soldier dying from the effects of the poison gas, Owen cannot forget it: it haunts his dreams, a recurring nightmare.

The recurrence of the word ‘drowning’ neatly conveys this.

Fighting men who were not long ago robust and vital are wallowing in blood and death.

The graphic nature of the poem is fitting as World War I produced more casualties than did World War II and was the first major conflict of the modern era to use tanks and heavy artillery along with the poison gas that is central to the poem.

In that final stanza, Owen turns what until now has been a descriptive poem into a piece of anti-war propaganda, responding with brilliant irony to the patriotic poets such as Jessie Pope (whom Owen specifically has in mind here), who wrote jingoistic doggerel that encouraged young men to enlist and ‘do their bit for king and country’.

If people like Pope, Owen argues, addressing her directly (‘If in some smothering dreams you too could pace…’), could witness what he has witnessed, and were forced to relive it in their dreams and waking thoughts every day and night, they would not in all good conscience be able to write such pro-war poetry, knowing they were encouraging more men to share the horrific fate of the soldier Owen had seen killed.One soldier is unable to put his protective mask on in time, leading to a description of the horrible effects of the chemical.It then casts doubt upon the attitude that it is “honorable to die for one’s county,” suggesting that it would be difficult for anyone who has seen the tragedies of war firsthand to feel that way. The narrator sees a comrade drowning as if he were underwater.(Although Owen did write sonnets elsewhere, most famously ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, there he is not describing the events of warfare but rather discussing more generally the senseless waste of life that the war caused.) The line break after the fourteenth line only brings this home: there’s a pause, and then we find ourselves returning to the word ‘drowning’, locked in it, fixating on that word, ‘drowning’ to describe the helpless state of the poor soldier suffocating from poison gas.The helplessness, of course, is Owen’s too, being unable to do anything for his falling comrade: all we can do is watch in horror. ’ at the beginning of the second stanza, with the two successive heavy stresses grabbing our attention, much as the cry from one soldier to his comrades is designed to – and they all fumble for their masks, struggling to put them in place to protect them against the deadly gas attack.The poem is written mostly but not completely in iambic pentameter and makes use of alliteration in several lines.The tone and mood are both downbeat as would be expected given the subject matter.The imagery is as striking and memorable as the structure, though a little more explicit: the first stanza bombards us with a series of similes for the exhausted men trudging through mud (‘like old beggars’, ‘coughing like hags’) and more direct metaphors (‘blood-shod’ suggesting feet caked in blood, implying trench-foot and cut legs; with ‘shod’ putting us in mind of horses, perhaps being used to plough a very different kind of muddy field; and ‘drunk with fatigue’ bitterly reminding us that this isn’t some sort of beer-fuelled jolly, a bunch of friends out for a night on the town). The word ‘ecstasy’ is another bitterly ironic take, preparing the ground for that ironic final stanza: these soldiers are ecstatic not with delirious pleasure but simply with delirium and panic.As I mentioned in the formal analysis above, the repetition of ‘drowning’ is a touch of genius: where the other rhymes all advance the poem (sludge/trudge, fumbling/stumbling), drowning/drowning brings us to a dead halt.As he put it in the draft preface he wrote for his poems: ‘My subject is War, and the pity of War. The poetry is in the pity.’ Continue to explore the world of war poetry with our post about Leicestershire’s forgotten war poet, the little-known poetry of WWI poet F.

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