Dulce Et Decorum Est

‘Dulce et Decorum est’ by Wilfred Owen is a poem that transports the reader to a particular action in the battlefield using forthright imagery that leads us to experience the horror, disgust and sadness of the hidden reality of war. Using rhyme and repetition, Owen is able to place the reader in context with his subject matter. For example the introductory pace of the poem, its natural tempo, resembles the beat of a marching drum that conjures imagery of soldiers at work. I will proceed to discuss in more detail Owen's poem and its characteristics, such as effects, techniques, context and meaning or meanings, applying the four points of the Study Diamond.

The poem consists of four stanzas of different lengths. It is curious how the first fourteen lines can be read as a sonnet despite not using rhyming couplets. Given that sonnets are traditionally used to describe the subject of love, Owen uses the sonnet to describe with irony the gritty reality of war. The pentameter is presented in regular form at the first stanza, thus complimenting the rhyme that occurs in the end of each line. They create a particular rhythm that draws the reader into the poem in first person.

From the first line of the poem we know that the health of the soldiers is weak, Owen delivers this image using strong metaphors and similes that demystifies the soldiers' figure of limitless strength and heroic look, comparing them with ‘hags’, that coughing and with faltering knees they curse throughout their path.   The alliteration is stronger at the first stanza and evokes the effects of sluggishness of the described events, such as ‘men marched asleep’, or the astonishing line ‘But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; All blind’ remarking that there’s not a single moment of rest.

In the second stanza the syllables are longer in lines nine, eleven and fourteen, the disruption in the pentameter of eleven syllables breaks the steady pace and increases the rhythm of punctuation in some words,...