Dulce Et Decorum Est

2264 words 10 pages
«Dulce et decorum est», Wilfred Owen (1917, 1920)

«Dulce et decorum est» is a poem written by British poet Wilfred Owen, during World War one, in 1917. The translation of the Latin title is: «It is sweet and proper». The completed sentence is as follows: «It is sweet and proper to die for one's country». This forms, what the writer refers to as, «The old Lie». The poem holds a strong criticism towards the conventional view of war at that written time. I shall now comment briefly on that time's traditional ideas of war and heroism. Further on, I shall have a concise look at some information about the author and his context. Then, I would like to put to light the perception of war introduced by Owen in this poem, and thereby, show how the
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In one of the letters Owen sent home to his mother, he describes no-mans land as: «...dark, too dark, and the ground was not mud, not sloppy mud, but an octopus of sucking clay, three, four, and five feet deep, relieved only by craters full of water...» These conditions were surely not mentioned in the news. While having to struggle through that noncooperative landscape, the soldiers had to dodge the many dangers present as well. The flares were «haunting» them back to their gropes. The use of the word «haunting», may imply that the soldiers were chased back, contrary to the picture of soldiers always marching heroically forwards.

Owen gives another punch to the attack of the common notion of war, by letting the readers in on how the war emotionally affected the soldiers. The word «old» could apply to the soldiers psyche as well as their physical state. The word «young» connotes hope, strength, life etc., while «old» may describe the soldiers loss of hope, their mental exhaustion and the awareness of, rather certainly, having to face death - soon. The soldiers reaction to the attack is described as «An ecstasy of fumbling». «ecstasy» connotes pleasure, or simply the loss of natural senses. This could mean the soldier's loss of conscious mentality, and that they had no fear. The words «lame», «blind», «deaf» could describe them as apathetic to the situation they are in. It could even imply


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