The poem is a passionate expression of outrage at the horrors of war and pity for the young soldiers sacrificed in it. “Dulce et Decorum Est” provides a very dramatic and memorable description of the psychological and physical horrors that war brings. Wilfred Owen was the second lieutenant of the British Army and as such, witnessed the violence and brutality of war. He wanted to drive out the ideas associated with patriotism and nationalism that were believed and spread by the media during his lifetime; his poetry portrays war as a de-humanizing and horrific event.
His poems ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’, ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ and ‘The Send-Off’ are all significant in conveying his negative attitudes towards the effect of war on the soldiers. ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ is an incurable and tormented description of a man’s own experience of war. Wilfred Owen’s attitude towards war is conveyed metaphors and dramatic exclamations. The effect of a metaphor is that it aims to create imagery so that we may visualize the connection between war’s true form ad the nationalism believed by everyone.
Owen’s language defines his own pejorative view, from his famous poem ‘Dulce et Decorum Est; Pro Patria mori’. The titles Latin translation is, ‘It is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country’. However the title is ironic as Owen plainly explains the burden and trouble of war. The first line of the first stanza, “Bent double like old beggars under sacks”. To be a soldier is a venerable position to uphold, this description suggests that these men have become e old and beaten down with exhaustion, pain and fear which are all expressed through a simile and yet are honoured in a patriotic society.
This also connotes how soldiers have lost their will to live and are reduced to begging for survival. The simile almost exhausts the idea of war being oppressive and distressing. The effect of the simile in the poem is that it paints a picture in our minds in descriptive sets of words. The first stanza appeals to the senses with imagery, ‘we cursed through sludge’. Imagery is used as it leaves a mental and pictorial impression on the reader through language. Owen’s own personal experience is emphasised, as a collective pronoun is used.