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Dulce Et Decorum Est - Poetry Analysis

An analysis of Wilfred Owen's "Dulce Et Decorum Est" World War One poem using the TPCASTT method to discover the theme statement of the poem.
by

Zaeem Siddiqui

on 19 May 2012

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Transcript of Dulce Et Decorum Est - Poetry Analysis

POETRY SEMINAR ZAEEM SIDDIQUI MUHAMMAD OSAMA AND RAVI SANGHA HARIS MAHMOOD ENG3U0-K Dulce Et Decorum Est But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind; Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, And towards our distant rest began to trudge. Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Of gas-shells dropping softly behind. Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. In all my dreams before my helpless sight Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through the sludge, Come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs My friend, you would not tell with such high zest If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin, And watch the white eyes writhing in his face, Behind the wagon that we flung him in, To children ardent for some desperate glory, Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, Bitter as the cud Pro patria mori. Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time, But someone still was yelling out and stumbling As under a green sea I saw him drowning. Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, And flound'ring like a man in fire or lime. - The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est WILFRED OWEN Wilfred Owen served in World War One, and started as a cheerful and optimistic man, ready to die gloriously for his country.

Soon after he was enlisted, he was diagnosed with shell-shock and put in hospital where he met Siegfried Sassoon.

His attitude changed as he fought more and more in the war. While he was stationed in the trenches, he realised the truth. We were bent down, crouching and hobbling like old beggars, We were shivering, coughing and struggling onwards through the bog, Until we turned our backs on the haunting gunfire and bombs, And we began the walk towards our trenches to rest. We were very sleepy. Many of us had lost our boots, We staggered on, tired and covered in blood. None of us felt any remorse or regret (unemotional and numb) We were so mentally and physically exhausted, we were deaf even to the sound of gunfire, the cries of fallen soldiers And bombs softly dropping behind us. Someone yelled, 'Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!' We all scrambled in a frenzy Putting our gas masks on just in time, But one of us was still yelling, and slipping and staggering And gasping like a man being shot. Through the gas mask and green mustard gas, As if under a green sea, I saw him drowning. In all my dreams and nightmares, He lunges at me, choking, gasping, and drowning. If in your dreams, you too could walk Behind the wagon that we piled the bodies on, And watch his white eyes rolling on his face, His pale, hanging face, twisted in agony; too painful to describe, If you could hear the blood, with every jolt of his body, Come gargling from his gas-infected lungs, As bitter as the vomit Of vile sores on innocent tongues My friend, you would not tell with so much enthusiasm To young men keen for some glory, The old Lie: It is sweet and proper To die for your country. This phrase was coined by the Roman poet, Horace, who always thought about "seizing the moment" and dying gloriously in war. He believed that it was heroic and righteous to die for one's country. ALLUSION C A S T T ITLE TTITUDE HIFT HEME Dulce Et Decorum Est P ARAPHRASE Wilfred Owen was only one of a few war poets including John McRae (In Flander's Fields) and Siegfried Sassoon, whom he hero-worshipped.

It was Siegfried Sassoon's enthusiasm and motivation that inspired Wilfred Owen to become a poet. In 1917, he wrote one of his most famous poems: DULCE ET DECORUM EST ________________ This literally means that "It is sweet and proper" Since the poem is about war, it is easy to see why this phrase is appropriate. As you already know, WW1 was greeted with enthusiasm, patriotism and pride, spread through effective use of propaganda. ONNOTATION The most important thing to analyse in this poem is Wilfred Owen's use of rhetoric. He uses many techniques to effectively convey his message across. The poem's excellent use of diction helps to define what Owen 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.
In the third stanza, Owen states the gassed man was "flung" into the wagon, revealing the urgency and occupation with war. All they can do is toss him into a wagon piled with bodies. This relates to the first subject. Through the use of propaganda, people felt more patriotic and were happy to die for their country. Owen tells us the truth of the war. This poem is built around three powerful and disturbing images: The first in the opening stanza;

A group of soldiers moving through no-man's land in an attempt to get back to the relative safety of the trenches Owen wants us to imagine what life was like in the trenches. He wants us to see the reality of dying in such a place. Owen carefully uses specific words to describe the men's condition: Asleep
Lost
Blood-shod
Lame
Blind
Drunk These are not words to describe heroic, strong and energetic men. Owen uses these words to show the effects of war on even the strongest of men. These words describe men who are broken by war. The second image is more dramatic. The first word changes the poem's pace. The last two lines of this stanza change the pace again. They have an almost dreamlike quality. "Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!" It makes the poem more urgent as the soldiers come under the gas attack and try to put on their masks before they choke As the smoke washes over the men, Owen uses a strong simile of the sea to describe the gas. "Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light. As under a green sea, I saw him drowning." He shows that the troops were torn out of their nightmarish walk and surrounded by gas. How everyone, in "an ecstasy of fumbling" was forced to run in the mist, unaware of their fate. The third and final image is given in the last stanza. Owen describes the picture of a dead man as his body is thrown on a wagon piled with other dead soldiers. Wilfred Owen also uses alliteration to draw the reader's attention as expressed in: "And watch the white eyes writhing in his face" Repetition of the word "face" (white eyes writhing in his face, his hanging face) shows that the most disturbing part about the gassed man was his twisted face In "his hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin" it is through the use of simile that Owen explains the grotesque nature of such a death. The devil cannot get sick of sinning, and if it did, it would be an unnatural and unimaginable thing. The same thing applies to the face of the gassed man. Wilfred Owen uses an alternate rhyme scheme to display his message across. This use allows him to change the pace of the poem and it also conveys the confusion and panic of the soldiers. Owen uses many similes and metaphors in his poem to help say what he wants to say more forcefully and vividly. "Bent double, like old beggars under sacks" This shows that they are so tired that they've been brought down to the level of beggars who haven't slept for weeks, hungry for food. He also compares "vile, incurable sores" with the troop's memories to show the effect of war. This shows that they will never be able to forget what they have seen. Owen also uses striking imagery. When he describes the gassed man, he uses strong and vivid imagery to help the readers (his readers would be people in England who weren't at war) understand what life was really like in the trenches. The men were "drunk with fatigue" which shows that they were dragging their feet in the mud and stumbling and tripping and staggering. When the bomb is dropped, it creates a psychological image that is meant to disturb the reader and show him/her the true face of war. Dulce Et Decorum Est is a very dramatic poem and shows us, unlike other poems, the TRUE life during World War One. Owen opens the reader's eyes to the truth instead of writing about how glorious and righteous war is. The tone can also be described as being desperate, shocked, angry, betrayed and cacophonous. Wilfred Owen served in World War One and shows us the truth behind the pretence spread by propaganda. His opinion is voiced strongly throughout the poem and explicitly in the last two lines: "The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori" Owen believes that the old belief, spread far and wide by the media and effective use of propaganda, is a LIE. Obviously, the poem was written in World War One but the exact location cannot be determined from the poem. All we know is that Owen was heading towards the trenches when the mustard gas attack took place. The visual structure helps us to see how the pace and tone of the poem change with each stanza. The first stanza shows the nightmarish walk of the soldiers, and how fatigued and exhausted they are. Then, after a gas attack, the pace changes to a more dramatic and faster one as they struggle to put on their masks. Then, it changes again as Owen describes the dead man whose lungs have been burned by mustard gas. This can be seen clearly as the first stanza is longer than the other two. As a stanza gets shorter and shorter, the pace of the poem increases, making it more dramatic. T ITLE Based on what we have learned about Owen's attitude towards war, we can take another look at the title to get a better understanding. It is obvious that Owen doesn't believe that dying for your country is sweet and proper so we can deduce that the allusion to the famous poet Quintus Horatius Flaccus (Horace) was in fact, a satire. Owen was making fun of the fact that so many believed war to be heroic and proper, even though millions of lives were lost. Owen deliberately uses this title to lull the reader into a false sense of security, making the reader think this is just another poem about the glory of war. The breaks throughout the poem indicate the clear opposition that Owen strikes up. The title of the poem means "It is sweet and proper," and then Owen continues his poem by ending that the title is, in fact, a lie. War is glorified and marketed by government in order to fool young men into sacrificing themselves, and is truly much more terrible than one is led to believe. There are many subjects in this poem: Propaganda
Suffering / War
Patriotism
Versions of reality
Ignorance War is believed to be two totally different things by people. One group sees war for what it truly is; suffering, pain, loss of life, mentally and physically traumatising etc. The other group, people who don't go to war but support the soldiers from the comfort of their homes, believe that even though millions of soldiers die for their country, they die heroically and so it is worth it. The ellipsis is used very well in: Of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues, - Owen leaves that statement hanging, showing us that this image trails off, and that gives a sense of the rhythm and the mood of the speaker at that point. It is not a proclamation, it is an eerie realization. THE END "Bent double" is also a hyperbole and shows how tired the soldiers were. They were not literally bent in half, but they were stooping very low due to fatigue. Known as the greatest war poet of World War One ______________________ This is the handwritten, original version of Dulce Et Decorum Est Notice all the corrections and changes he made. All these little revisions helped change this poem from being just a poem, to being one of the greatest poems of all time. "Come gargling from the froth corrupted lungs" This shows that the troops are brutally slaughtered in the most painful manners possible. Specifically in World War One, this refers to the mustard gas attacks and the relatively more advanced attacks as well. ELLIPSIS ___________________________________ _______ Owen wrote this poem to show the ignorance most people have toward war and its terrible outcomes. Owen uses these literary devices and others to reach a single end. A sensory image of watching a man, in service of his country, die a terrible death. He reveals his true perspective throughout the whole poem but specifically and explicitly states it in the last two lines of the poem to leave a lasting image in the reader's mind and show the irony of the title. The entire poem can be seen as a cruel situational irony because even though Owen was eventually killed in the very war he opposed, he died, in the eyes of the British public (his readers), a hero's death. Millions came home without body parts, or were mentally broken due to the things they had to live through in the trenches. Others had their lives cut short through the effects of poison gas with collapsed lungs.

Others still, came home whole in body, appearing normal, but with such serious nervous/mental conditions that they could not work, and were confined to mental hospitals for the rest of their lives. In a moment of even more irony, the telegram from the War Office announcing his death was delivered to his mother's home as her town's church bells were ringing in celebration of the Armistice. THEME STATEMENT: Wilfred Owen carefully crafts rhetorical design in "Dulce Et Decorum Est" to illustrate the concept of men blindly going to war, seeking glory, based on the useless ideals that sacrifice youth at the altar of national glory, spread far and wide by effective use of propaganda. __________________ Dramatic Reading Of Dulce Et Decorum Est Thank You For Your Time And Attention
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