World War I’s powerful and long lasting impact affected people all over the world. A significant figure from the literature of World War I, Wilfred Owen, expressed his powerful thoughts on the war in his writing. Owen had experience in the war as a soldier himself which made him particularly noteworthy. He noted many hardships that included suffering from illnesses and the changing weather conditions. His firsthand accounts demonstrate the truth about war.
In one of Wilfred Owen’s particular poems, “Dulce et Decorum Est”, he wrote with extensive imagery of the war which showed his view point as a soldier and what occurred in reality. The stanzas have a darkening mood as they go on to make the war seem very real and alive. Owen combines interesting diction and strong imagery to create a powerful effect in his poem. Outside influences helped to play a key role in Owen discovering himself as a writer. The most significant influence that developed came from Siegfried Sassoon.
Owen used many of Sassoon’s ideas and they had similar viewpoints of the war resulting in a fast friendship. Wilfred Owen pressed a very significant and lasting impression upon many. Wilfred Owen combines his own experience as a soldier with the strong influence from other writers to develop a very real sense of the war, which creates new perspectives coming from the eyes of a soldier. 2 Wilfred Owen’s life experience as a soldier in World War I played a direct role in his writing because it provided a particular insight for him to write with.
Throughout “Dulce et Decorum Est”, his own experience plays a role because he knows the lives of soldiers and their experiences and he can elaborate on them. Wilfred Owen opens up the poem by describing the horrible conditions that he and his fellow soldiers faced 3, “Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs, and towards our distant rest began to trudge. Men marched asleep” (Owen lines 3-5). He used his own experience to describe the way soldiers had to continuously march on to stay alive.
Owen felt constantly unsafe and because of this he suffered from an unfortunate diagnosis of shell shock. This affected Owen because the struggle he faced became a key topic throughout his poems. Part of Owen’s writing that stuck with many people came from the realness that he spoke with. He became able to share his honest opinions because of his real experience and obstacles he faced. Wilfred Owen’s poems contained a powerful message about how the war affected him and it touched many outsiders.
An article written on Owen and his experiences elaborates that 2 that Owen felt the experience of war felt “surrealistic” and the infantrymen would enter a “hypnotic state from excessive fear and guilt” (“Wilfred Owen”). ” Wilfred Owen’s writing became real and others could relate to some of the hardships that he faced. Owen found that his job as a soldier defined himself as a person and he wanted to share his experience with others with full honesty. His honesty and sometimes negative outlook on the war’s effects give the reader the real story, no matter how brutal.
Owen writes about the horrific experience of people dying in the war and their ultimate fate 3, “If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace behind the wagon that we flung him in, and watch the white eyes writhing in his face, his hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin;” (Owen lines 17-20). Wilfred Owen writes with honesty about the negatives that he experienced in the war himself and many difficult duties he had to preform. He channels human experience into his writing which worked into expanding his influence.
Overall Owen’s own experience as a soldier in the war positively impacted his own writing because it provided him with new insight and honest opinions to share. 3 Although Wilfred Owen expressed his own thoughts and opinions throughout his writings, other authors around the same time period pushed him even farther to write with his honest opinions which resulted in more realism in his poetry. 2 Possibly both the biggest influence and one of Owen’s closest friendships developed with Siegfried Sassoon. They met in a hospital and bonded over their love of literature and having someone to share experiences with no matter how dark.
Siegfried writes that others knew he had a particular influence over Owen, but he developed mostly as an individual writer. He notes that they have a similar style of war poetry and he most affected Owen by challenging him to write with “compelling realism” (“Meeting Wilfred Owen”). Wilfred and Siegfried developed a unique friendship where they saw the true value in their companion’s writing. In addition, Siegfried discussed how Owen developed into an overall intelligent man that helped him in his writing and that his character contained “absolute integrity of mind” (“Owen, Wilfred Poems”).
Siegfried Sassoon praised Owen because he wrote with compelling honesty and integrity, making him stand out from other war poets at the time. In his specific work, “Dulce et Decorum Est”, Owen uses Sassoon’s influence about realism and expresses how things honestly occurred 2, “If you could hear, at every jolt, the blood come gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs, obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues” (Owen lines 21-24). Owen writes the truth about what occurred during the war and Sassoon pushed him to do so.
He connects horrific times to examples that people could understand in modern days. Sassoon and Owen both respected each other for their own literature and Sassoon wrote the introduction for the publishing of Owen’s book, Poems, which included many of Owen’s works as well as an introduction and additional notes. Siegfried Sassoon notes how Wilfred Owen’s writing influenced others and it left an impact even after he passed because his poems embodied who he became as a person. He also explains the straightforwardness and honesty that comes along with Wilfred Owen’s work.
Sassoon and Owen’s friendship made each of them more confident as writers and it provided them with a solace during a time when their surroundings seemed distraught. Sassoon pushed Owen to write with honesty and express his true opinions on war, which made his poetry stand out even more. 2 The intense imagery Wilfred Owen writes with throughout “Dulce et Decorum Est” allows the reader to see through the eyes of a soldier and experience a real sense of the war that he gained from his own experience while fighting.
The imagery provides important context for his writing and allows the reader to create a picture in their mind about what he experienced. Owen opens the poem with soldiers marching continuously without the ability to stop as they constantly fought for their lives and in fear of getting attacked. He provides the image of the soldiers suffering from loss of blood, fatigue, and deafness due to the strong and sudden explosions nearby. Owen portrays the powerful toll the war takes on the soldiers and it shows the negative viewpoint that he has from fighting as a soldier himself.
A reporter commenting on the poem’s effect noted that it, 2 “Describes explicitly the horror of the gas attack and the death of a wounded man who has been flung into a wagon” and he further describes the war as a “walking nightmare” (“Dulce et Decorum Est”). The poem’s dynamic imagery allows the war to seem alive and overall very threatening to the soldiers risking their lives. Owen uses more imagery to display the horrors of the war throughout the poem, specifically in the second stanza.
Wilfred Owen writes with a supernatural mood,2 “And flound’ring like a man in fire or lime… Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, as under I green see, I saw him drowning” (Owen Lines 12-14). Owen uses a supernatural mood combined with the images a soldier sees throughout his war journey to create a very real and powerful setting. The images of the man drowning continue to haunt the author and make him have nightmares, connecting to Owen’s mental condition of shell shock.
Wilfred Owen’s vivid imagery that he writes with in this poem depicts a forceful idea in the reader’s mind of the negative impact he and his fellow soldiers had to deal with. Wilfred Owen notes the importance of writing with imagery because it shows new perspective and what happened in actuality. 2 The dark mood that Wilfred Owen portrays throughout “Dulce et Decorum Est” changes from a simple explanation of the war to a more horrific tone in order to share his honest opinions. 2 He adds stronger diction and more supernatural themes to his writing in order to change the mood.
Throughout the first stanza Wilfred Owen writes using imagery that comes across as normal to the reader. This shows how he initially thought of the war until he became a significant soldier himself. The next stanza immediately catches the attention of the reader as it begins with, 3 “Gas! GAS! Quick, boys! – An ecstasy of fumbling…” (Owen Line 9). This coincides with the sudden and catastrophic experiences that Owen often faced. The repetition of words creates a vivid and terrifying vision for the reader.
The mood of the poem shifts from a “present tense account of a war experience” to “a tone of horrified recollection” (“The Poems of Wilfred Owen”). Owen writes with an extremely intense mood to go along with the setting of the war: un-constant and horrific. This allows for an honest interpretation of what actually occurred as well as making his opinions known. Owen transitions to write with intense diction to describe a man drowning 2, “In all my dreams before my helpless sight, he plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning” (Owen Lines 15-16).
The mood here along with the diction choice show the hardships Owen had to face along with the constant nightmares. The poem continues to talk about death and the sudden change that occurs throughout the war where soldiers would often get caught fighting for their lives. The poem does not add any “kind of consoling meditative relief or release from extreme physical horror” (“The Poems of Wilfred Owen”). Wilfred Owen creates an even stronger mood when combining it with clever diction choices and similes. He compares the war to horrible things that connect to real life people and make them think.
The similes and overall mood that the poem takes on allows the reader to interpret Wilfred’s one experience and how unpleasant it felt to be a soldier in World War I. A writer touched by Owen’s work notes, 2, “In effect, the poet adopts the machinery of war in making his work the equivalent of a destructive cannon designed to explode in the comfortable civilian’s face” (“The Poems of Wilfred Owen”). By using the supernatural and changing mood, his messages become very clear to the reader because he does not hold back in expressing how things happened in reality.
Even though Owen’s writings sometimes come off with an explosive surprise, the true honesty that he uses sticks with the reader. Wilfred Owen does not hold back in expressing his opinions on the war and he influences others with his war realism by writing with a dark mood. 2 The most powerful lines in Wilfred Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est” includes the last lines because he ties everything together with realism and makes connections to a modern day outlook of war. 3 He contrasts his opinions with what other people who don’t know the full story of the war.
Owen also makes connections to modern day opinions of the war and how it comes across as glorious. Wilfred Owen writes how the elders lie about the war 2, “My friend, you would not tell with such high zest to children ardent for some desperate glory, the old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori” (Owen Lines 25-28). The last phrase meaning, “It is sweet and glorious to die for one’s country”, show how Owen thinks people are lying to themselves if they hold that opinion.
His sarcastic tone of voice pulls together how he thought the war negatively affected both himself and his fellow soldiers. Other writers described his ability to connect with others and create a big picture, particularly in the end of his poem 2, with the term “inner reality”. Inner reality refers to the ability to “relate these particular facts to the rest of human experience” (“Poets of World War One”). Owen’s use of inner reality allows him to further show how his experience differs from what an outsider might think, tying back into the last lines of the poem.
This relates to his use of war realism and how he expressed his honest opinions. He notes the innocence of the young children and how people lie to them that joining the war shows your dedication to one’s country, when in reality Owen continued to suffer from hallucinations and nightmares. The last lines of Owen’s poem most strongly reflect his use of war realism and how he shares his opinions against how many people saw the war. 2
Throughout the poem, “Dulce et Decorum Est”, Wilfred Owen portrays his powerful opinions on World War I and how it affected both himself and other people 2. His writing allows the reader to gain a very real sense of the war because of the vivid and dark imagery he chooses to write with. The imagery in particular seems very real because Owen himself fought as a soldier and it greatly influenced how he viewed things and the experiences that he had. Siegfried Sassoon influenced Owen’s war realism by pushing to express his honest opinions.
Others praised Owen’s war poetry for it’s uniqueness because he reached out to the broader audience and gave his readers a new perspective. He left an impact on his readers and several of them continued to praise his work much later than the time period. Owen’s poems contain an overall message to the reader because he used imagery along with diction to form very strong images of the war and death. It shows the shock that he suffered through and it made him stand out.
In the last few lines of his poetry, Owen expresses his honest opinion about fighting in the war and how most people thought his job took much less effort than it did, as he saw fighting for one’s country as an act of bravery and hardship. He discusses people lying to their children about it, which makes the reader question their own morals and it gives them a new perspective on the soldier’s lives. Overall, Wilfred Owen wrote his honest opinions because of his experience and influences he gained from other writers, touching many outsiders with his knowledge and thoughts regarding the war.