Personally, my son has recently informed me that he joined the army, so the poem resonates increasingly strong. When reading the poem I am constantly reminded of the realities of the contemporary armed conflict in the Middle East and conflicted about my son joining the cause for American freedom.
Dulce et Decorum translates to ‘It is sweet and right,’ an ironic reference to the reality and of the tragic occurrences of World War I. While I completely support our troops in Afghanistan, one could make a convincing case that this line is a similar justification used in the wars in the Middle East. Although it’s not entirely clear what the ‘sweet’ refers to one could rightly attribute it to the ‘sweet’ revenge that many Americans felt justified the countries attack on these regions for the advances made by Saddam Hussein and the terrorist attacks made on the World Trade Center. The ‘right’ portion of the title refers to the belief that American attacks are justified on the grounds of moral reasons – weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, stopping the Taliban in Afghanistan. I believe that the poem functions to bring the reader’s attention not to these abstract justifications, but to the bitter realities of armed conflict.
In just the first two lines of the poem, the soldiers are portrayed as tired and sick. In the rest of the stanza, Owens shows how the conditions that theses soldiers had to go through were horrendous. For example, “Many had lost their boots, but limped on, blood-shod” shows how these soldiers had been fighting in all conditions. He uses connotations of dirt and everyday language to add to the realism "we cursed through sludge." When I consider these lines I envision that the soldiers are demoralized, shadows of their former selves. They dont march proudly as imagined, but trudge wearily and heavily. The punctuation of the verse slows down the rhythm of the poem, to enhance the realism of the soldiers movements. I