Dulce et decorum est
“Dulce et decorum”. Is that really what war is? According to Wilfred Owen it is not. “It is a Great and Glorious thing” is the title of Owens poem about war, which is ironic, as the rest of the poem is a contradiction of this title. Wilfred Owen is dead set against war and how people were being recruited to join the First World War. My critical evaluation will focus on the poetic techniques used in the poem in order to convey the horror and futility of war and I will include my personal reaction to the poem and its themes.
The first eight lines of the poem describe how the men look and act when on the battle field. They are “bent double, like old beggars under sacks”. Their clothes are hanging off them and are torn and unrecognisable as the uniforms they are meant to be. The men have been reduced to beggars and appear to have lost their youth. They have been reduced to witches, as they are described as “coughing like hags”. The strong, young men who were willing and cheering to go to war are now cursing as they “trudge” through the “sludge”. As they return to their “distant rest”, “men marched asleep”. This is an effective use of alliteration and metaphor as the men are so tired it seems that they are marching, like zombies. “All went lame; all blind”. No-one is missed out in this line, everyone is suffering, appearing “blood-shod”, with excruciatingly painful injuries resulting in gore-encrusted feet. They are “drunk with fatigue”, and “deaf to the sound of gas shells dropping behind”. They are too tired to notice the danger around them, which brings us to the next stanza.
This part of the poem is all about the death of one man and how slow and painful it is. “Gas! Gas! Quick boys!”. The repetition of “gas” spreads panic immediately, as does the use of exclamation marks. Then Owen uses an oxymoron, “an ecstasy of fumbling”, two opposites being used to create a mixed atmosphere. Someone is not fast enough when putting on his helmet and...