Dulce Et Decorum Est
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I have chosen to write about the poem “Dulce Et Decorum Est” by Willfred Owen as it is a good example of a poem, which vividly describes the event that has taken place. In this poem, the incident is once which occurs in the First World War. There is a gas attack in the trenches and one man doesn’t get his mask on in time and suffers the effects of the attack. The poet’s aim is to argue the saying “Dulce Et Decorum Est” and to show the reader the reality of the war, none of the lies that people are told. He makes this clear, especially in the last verse.
The first verse begins by describing the compilation of the soldiers. The first line is a good example of a simile: “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks.” You can almost imagine these men crouching as if they had something heavy weighing them down. The rest of the verse mainly describes how tired the men are from walking long distances and working hard in difficult conditions like the “sludge” beneath their feet, causing them to “curse”. They were “coughing like hags” probably because of the thick fumes and gases in the air. In this part of the poem, they are heading to their “distant rest”, or camp. They seem to be walking away from the battlefield as they turn their backs on their “haunting flares”. They don’t seem to be paying much attention at this point, as they are so tired. They “all went lame, all blind, drunk with fatigue.” This is suggesting that their senses aren’t functioning properly as they are so tired. The last line of this first verse is a very calm line. As the gas-shells are “dropping softly behind” it doesn’t seem so evil until the start of the next verse.
The men start to yell “Gas! Gas!” and the tension starts to build. There is an “ecstasy of fumbling” as the soldiers fit their “clumsy helmets” over the gas masks. The poem then goes on to explain that someone is “yelling out and stumbling and floundering like a man on fire or lime.” This soldier has obviously not gotten his mask on quick enough and is suffering the effects of the evil gas. He is “floundering” like a fish. The men see him “dim through the misty panes and thick green light” The “misty panes” are from the gas mask as the men are breathing heavily inside the masks, causing them to steam up. The “thick green light” is probably from a flare that has gone off, making it difficult to see. The poet relates back to the fish meaning by saying “under a green sea, I saw him drowning.” The man seems to be dying in front of them, choked by the gas.
Even though verse three is short, it’s very effective and describes what’s happening very vividly by using other words with certain letters in them. When the poet is describing the dying man, he uses the word “guttering”. This gives a good impression of choking because you use your throat when you say it. Also it brings back the sea theme, by saying that the man “plunges” at him, “drowning”.
The last verse is directed at the reader. The word “if” is used many times, suggesting the reader isn’t a soldier.