This poem written by Wilfred Owen is set during the World War I. Although, a lot had been written on this subject, and one may find tons of information about the events, persons and so on, but this information will not help the reader to understand and grasp the atmosphere at the battlefield. Poets as Owen described this setting in their poems. He had spent a lot of time on the battlefields, so he really has a right to show the world how he sees it.
All the soldiers of the Ist World War were not as equipped as the troops are today. They did not have access to modern technology, but what was the same is the anxiety and fear they experiences. With the help of this poem, Owen tries to raise awareness among his readers about the massive death of people this war had brought.
The poem starts with a routine of soldiers on the battlefield. However, the word “normal” is unfamiliar to them now, they forgot its meaning. The exertions of battle have a strong mental and psychological impact on them. Just as men are ready to go home for the night, out of nowhere the gas shells drop right on them. They try to find and put on their oxygen masks as this is the only thing that may stop them from dying. Unfortunately, not all the soldiers are lucky enough to put the mask on and our protagonist is forced to see his fellow soldier’s death.
This image of his friend dying cannot leave the protagonist. This image is in his thoughts, in his dreams, in the poetry he writes. For the protagonist, this incident proves how inhumane war is. He just cannot understand how so many people in his homeland are rooting for war. They do not realize how many victims are innocent and dying for no cause.
In the last verse, he encourages youth to fight for national honor as well as for their personal glory. He stresses the fact one more time that the battlefield events are dreadful, and the agony that the war creates cannot be described by simple words. Speaker sees nothing honorable and striking about the death or the war.
Speaking about the title of the poem, it is important to mention the translation of “Dulce et Decorum Est” from Latin – “It is Sweet and Proper”. This statement contradicts with everything said above because the writer uses irony. Owen believes that the title is appropriate as it could not been further apart from the truth. By emphasizing the horrible details of the war, he understands how empty and un-heroic the actual war is.