In the short period of four years from 1914-1918, the First World War killed six million men and destroyed countless more lives. Wilfred Owen was a British soldier who became bitter and cynical about the war after suffering from shell-shock. He turned to poetry and one of the poems he produced 'Dulce et Decorum Est'.
Dulce et Decorum Est opens with a simile, setting the scene of war time, and Owen's opinion that war is not a noble thing.
The first stanza ends with a hint of danger 'of gas shells dropping', but the soldiers, too tired and numb to notice, ignores it for the moment.
The pace of the first stanza is very slow and weary, with many breaks. This is to mirror the lack of strength and energy of the soldiers.
The second stanza explodes at the beginning, with the only exclamation marks in the entire poem ('Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!-'), setting the pace for the rest of the stanza - a quick, rapid pace mirroring the urgency of putting on a gas mask in the poem.
Owen uses the image of a sea to convey what the gas attack was like. Like the sea, Owen is trying to say that the sea is vast, never ending, heavy, and suffocating. I think this analogy was used extremely well, as it gives an extremely vivid image of the gas attacks, as we can all relate to the sea. This analogy is further expanded with one of the soldiers 'drowning'. Owen also mentions the pain, making the poem seem much more real. 'a man in fire or lime' gives us the idea of what the gas does to people.The reason he chose the phrase could be because it is in Latina language spoken mostly by the extremely educated and those who will not become soldiers. He is saying that the middle-class will be the ones that obey the orders from the higher ups and fight.
The poem ends with the title, 'Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori', coming full circle, and perhaps Owen's way of saying that war will keep on repeating itself, until we do something to stop it.
Whilst Owen's descriptions and use of auditory, visual and kinesthetic imagery creates an extremely powerful image, he may have been too focused on the ABABCDCD structure, which may parallel the marching sound of war. When read to yourself, one may notice this, but if read aloud, the multiple commas in one line ruins the pace, and one cannot really tell the correlation between the lines.