Theme Of Dulce Et Decorum Est

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Comparing two war poems written by Wilfred Owen: Dulce et decorum Est and Anthem for Doomed Youth.

In this essay I will be comparing two war poems written by Wilfred
Owen: ‘Dulce et decorum Est’ and ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’. By
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We can tell this most strongly in the long sentence of the final stanza which builds up to a dramatic, climax with its attack on ‘the old lie’.

The tone of ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ is less strong and much more sad as we would expect from a poem that mourns the tragic deaths of men at war. The language of this poem is full of gentle, and depressing words, like ‘sad shires’ ‘holy glimmers’ and ‘tenderness’. Here Owen’s tone doesn’t express his anger at the waste-of life but his sense of its tragedy.

The structure of the two poems is very different. ‘Dulce et decorum
Est’ is basically a narrative. It tells a story. Owen divides it into three sections, which deal with events before, during and after the gas attack. The first section creates a sinister, tense atmosphere.
The long lines seem to drag and feel exhausted. The second section opens with the dramatic contrast of the sudden gas attack:

‘Gas! Gas! Quick boys!’

The rhythms are suddenly more agitated and panic stricken. The final section contains only one long sentence, a succession of ‘if’ clauses culminating in the bitter sarcasm with which he tells ‘my
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In the final stanza, imagery is used to stress the moral horror of the war when Owen compares the victim’s face to ‘a devils sick of sin’

and when he compares the poisoned blood to the physical diseases of cancer and ‘vile incurable sores’. All these similes bring out the awfulness of dying in a gas attack, making a strong message to contradict the vague, Latin phrase about how sweet it is to die for your country.

In ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ Owen develops a singe image, the idea of the funeral ceremony for the dead. The first line asks about the
‘passing bells’ and the rest of the octave describes the various sounds of war, which are substituted for the funeral bells. This includes the ‘monstrous anger of guns’, the rattling of the riffles and the wailing of the shells. The sestet begins by asking where are the candles for the funeral service but goes on to tell us that ‘holy glimmers of goodbyes’ in the eyes of the boy soldiers will have to instead. The funeral cloth placed over the coffin is replaced by

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