The Deception about War (Dulce Et Decorum Est)

Categories: Dulce Et Decorum Est

The old Lie: Dulce et Decorum est, Pro Patria Mori.” This quote from the poem Dulce et Decorum Est, written by Wilfred Owen, informed us about how different war was from the ideals to reality in the early 1900s. Over many decades, the public’s view on ‘war’ changed from it being honorable and glorious to it being vile and putrid. Multiple poems written at different time periods suggests whether the poems were used to propagate the young men to join the army or to reveal the truth of war and end the propaganda.

In many poems during wars, poets would glorify war and the soldiers in order to convince and persuade the readers to join the army. Poems such as To Lucasta and The Charge of the Light Brigade would be an example of pro-war poems. The poets used many literary devices to establish a certain mood and tone in order to persuade the reader. On the other hand, The Song of the Mud and Dulce et Decorum Est takes the side of anti-war, which displayed war as a foul and dreadful action.

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The poets of The Song of the Mud and Dulce et Decorum Est also constructed this mood by using literary devices, such as diction, metaphor, and imagery. War is nothing like what To Lucasta and The Charge of the Light Brigade describes it is. Behind all the embellishment lies the ugly truth. In the poem, To Lucasta, Going to the Wars, Lovelace shows his affection towards war, even more than his lover presented in his 3 stanza poem.

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He states in his first stanza “To war and arms I fly” meaning that the narrator is going to war. Lovelace constantly compares war and his lover, and eventually, in the last stanza, he concludes that he admits that he loves war more than his mistress and he is willing to fly to the battlefield. To Lucasta, Going to the Wars supports that war is marvelous. To show this, Lovelace uses diction, tone, and alliteration over his poem.

The poem follows the rhyme scheme of abab, cdcd, and efef over the three stanzas and each stanza focus on different aspects of war thus have different tones. The first stanza includes diction that embellishes his lover. Words like sweet, chaste breast, a nunnery in the first stanza describes how great his mistress is. This builds up his argument of how fabulous war is, since he admits that he loves war more than the mistress in the poem.

In his second stanza, he shifts his focus from his woman to the foe in the battlefield, where he would “chase” them down. Here, he uses the word faith to imply that the religion he worships now is the war, not the woman he left behind. He uses alliteration in this stanza at line 6, “The first foe in the field” which emphasizes the matter he is going to chase after instead of his lover.

Lastly, Lovelace shows that he chooses war over his mistress in his last stanza. He tells her that she should love and respect his decision, and presents her with a solid statement at lines 11 and 12: “I could not love thee (Dear) so much, Lov’d I not Honour more.” This translates to “I can not love you more like I love glories of war.” He uses the word ‘love’ often in his poem to show his affection towards both war and his mistress.

In the poem, Charge of the Light Brigade, Tennyson displays a certain historical tactic used in a war that killed 600 soldiers in vain. However, he uses rhythm, repetition, and diction in his poem to illustrate that the charge the soldiers made was glorious and honorable. Overall, the poem follows a certain rhythm that establishes an exciting mood. The rhythm used in Charge of the Light Brigade is often used in marching bands for celebrations and festivals. Therefore, even though the actual plot of the poem is gloomy and depressing, the poem carries a joyful tone.

Tennyson repeats certain phrases over his poem in order to show the devastating situation the soldiers are in. Valley of death, mouths of hell, cannon to the left [right] were mentioned several times over Charge of the Light Brigade. By doing so, the repetition emphasizes the disastrous events and the emotions the soldiers feel.

Tennyson manages his diction is a way that constructs a mood in his poem. Death, hell, blundered, honor and glory are the main words that construct the emotion of the poem carries. In the beginning, Tennyson used ‘blundered’ to indicate that the commander had made a terrible mistake and sent the troops into the ‘valley of death’ and ‘mouths of hell’. After indicating that the brigade had been annihilated, the poem ends with glorifying the brigade. This is ironic since there is nothing to glorify for the brigade. They had died in vain, without achieving anything.

In the poem, Song of the Mud, Borden uses mud as an analogy to war. In the first stanza, she begins off with explaining the characteristics of mud, describing them as glistening and elastic, which are words that does not carry much emotions. Here, the readers can assume that this poem is positive, since the title has the term ‘song’ in it, and songs are usually a positive term.

However, as the poem continues onto the second stanza and on, the mood becomes dark and miserable. Borden displays mud as something that is terrifying and unwelcome. She uses diction and metaphors to address the terrors of war. She uses mud as an analogy to war. By explaining how mud is bitter and foul, she shows the readers that war is not something to be appreciated.

The poem, Dulce et Decorum est also takes the anti-war side. Owen uses dialogues, diction, and syntax to address his points on war. In the beginning of the poem, He starts off with words that represents the soldiers as “old beggars” and “hags” which shows that soldiers are not as neat as one imagines it to be. The very first word in the second stanza shouts out “Gas!” which adds more realism in the devastating situation presented in the poem, showing his comrades trying to “escape the green sea, effortlessly drowning”.

Owen speaks directly to the readers in the last stanza, speaking out and addressing the readers as ‘you’ and ‘my friend’. By doing this, it gives off a vibe that Owen is giving the readers an advice. By keeping the last sentence as Latin, it draws the reader’s attention. At the end, he emphasizes the fact that all the statements appreciating and worshipping the war is a lie.

Comparing the four poems, it really shows their own colors. The first two poems shows that war should be appreciated and the last two rebuttals the points made in the pro-war poems. Charge of the Light Brigade explains the courageous soldiers who literally charged into their meaningless death, but the diction and rhythm used made it seem positive.

Therefore, it is difficult to see the Charge of the Light Brigade as a poem which completely worships war. Like Dulce et Decorum est suggests, the arguments about war being glorious and loving, is a lie. To conclude, the reality of war is not like the war mentioned in To Lucasta and Charge of the Light Brigade which glorified the war and blundered tactics. War is putrid and foul, like portrayed on Song of the Mud and Dulce et Decorum Est.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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The Deception about War (Dulce Et Decorum Est). (2024, Feb 02). Retrieved from

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