Dulce et Decorum Est
Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,...
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War poetry dulce et decorum est -annotated


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War poetry dulce et decorum est -annotated

  1. 1. Dulce et Decorum Est Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs, And towards our distant rest began to trudge. Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame, all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of Five-Nines dropping softly behind. Gas! Gas! Quick boys! - An ecstasy of fumbling, Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time, But someone still was yelling out and stumbling And floundering like a man in fire or lime.- Dim through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. 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: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori. Wilfred Owen source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Australian_infantry_small_box_respirators_Ypres_1917.jpg Present tense suggests the nightmares are continuing still for the poet. Confirms the idea of the incident as a nightmare. Present tense shows the man is still alive to the poet, in his memory. Short, sharp words (all stressed) convey the panic and speed that the men must act with. Alliteration suggests a stuttering, faltering march. Two ideas in one: 1) The adrenaline of panic. 2) The relief of fitting the mask. Suggests idea of being shoeless, with bleeding feet, while also connoting “bloodshed” in the war. Metaphor? Shows effect of sustained shelling, but also the manner in which the men have become desensitized to the shells. “Like” = Simile expresses the sadness of their fatigue. Onomatopoeic, present tense mimics the sounds and actions of the scene.Shows the desperation of the soldier. Lime is a caustic used to disintegrate matter – often used in burials… The poet feels responsible, guilty. “Flung” suggests a lack of care or respect. Highly graphic imagery but contained within rigid meter. Far from “sweet” Owen makes an horrific comparison. A pause before the poet addresses the reader directly. Sarcasm? Mocking? Angry? Emphasises that the young are the ones sent to die in wars before they are aware of the reality of battle. Capital letter stresses its accepted position in society. Short, direct language – contrast with the lie itself. The line is taken from Horace – a Roman historian who believed in the nobility of this kind of death. Finishes with a half-line – does this stress that the idea is not true?