Wilfred Owen: Poems

The Horror and Waste of War in Owens's "Dulce et Decorum Est" and "Insensibility" 12th Grade

Wilfred Owen utilises poetic techniques to create vivid imagery, expressing the trepidation and squander of war. This is most prominent in the poems ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ as well as ‘Insensibility’. ‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ disruption of the ode form and violent imagery reveal the inhumane waste and horror of war. ’ Insensibility’ free verse and irregular meter is countered by his pararhyme, those ‘tuneless tendencies’, prevalent in Owen’s poetry.

‘Dulce et Decorum Est’ stanza length is irregular, the first two quatrains of traditional iambic pentameter, which is then discarded like the blind patriotism of the innocent within the horror of war. The visual imagery of the soldiers ‘Bent double, like old beggars under sacks’ graphically generates images of a suffering beyond recognition for the young soldiers are ‘Knock-kneed, coughing like hags’ and ‘cursed’ replaces a simpler verb to create the image of the unworldly. The soldiers that ironically limped away from the ‘Haunting flares’ of the front line, towards a ‘distant rest’ are so metaphorically ‘drunk with fatigue’ that they are impervious to the peril of the ‘Five-Nines that dropped behind’. As they limp away from the battlefield, alliteration and emotive language is used...

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