The majority of these postings are from the internet. Some of them are unedited while some of them are.I just scoured the internet for material that I thought would be of benefit to my students who are sitting the English B CSEC exam.
I apologise for not citing the sites as references.
Some of the material comes from Clifford Narinesingh co - author of A Comprehensive English
Course , Books 1-3 and CXC English A.
Friday, 6 January 2012
DULCE et DECORUM EST
DULCE et DECORUM EST
Notes on Dulce et Decorum Est
1. DULCE ET DECORUM EST - the first words of a Latin saying (taken from an ode by Horace). The words were widely understood and often quoted at the start of the First World War. They mean "It is sweet and right." The full saying ends the poem: Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - it is sweet and right to die for your country. In other words, it is a wonderful and great honour to fight and die for your country.
2. Flares - rockets which were sent up to burn with a brilliant glare to light up men and other targets in the area between the front lines (See illustration, page 118 of Out in the Dark.)
3. Distant rest - a camp away from the front line where exhausted soldiers might rest for a few days, or longer
4. Hoots - the noise made by the shells rushing through the air
5. Outstripped - outpaced, the soldiers have struggled beyond the reach of these shells which are now falling behind them as they struggle away from the scene of battle
6. Five-Nines - 5.9 calibre explosive shells
7. Gas! - poison gas. From the symptoms it would appear to be chlorine or phosgene gas. The filling of the lungs with fluid had the same effects as when a person drowned
8. Helmets - the early name for gas masks
9. Lime - a white chalky substance which can burn live tissue
10. Panes - the glass in the eyepieces of the gas masks
11. Guttering - Owen probably meant flickering out like a candle or gurgling like water draining down a gutter, referring to the sounds in the throat of the choking man, or it might be a sound partly like stuttering and partly like gurgling
12. Cud - normally the regurgitated grass that cows chew usually green and bubbling. Here a similar looking material was issuing from the soldier's mouth
13. High zest - idealistic enthusiasm, keenly believing in the rightness of the idea
14. ardent - keen
15. Dulce et decorum est pro patria mori - see note 1 above.
Wilfred Owen was a Captain of the British Army and as such, witnessed the atrocities of war first hand. He wanted to dispel the notions associated with patriotism and nationalism that were propagated by the media during his lifetime; thus his poetry portrays war as a dehumanising and horrific event. His poems "Dulce et Decorum Est," "Anthem for Doomed Youth" and "The Send Off" are significant in conveying his negative attitudes towards the effects of war on the soldiers.
The theme of the poem is the subject with which the poet deals. It is the central
idea around which the event or experiences revolve. In this poem, the central
idea is the “horrors of war”. The ghastly image of war, the torture to which
soldiers are subjected, reflect the theme –
“the haunting flares”, “gas shells dropping”
“froth corrupted lungs” are evidence of the atrocities of war.
INTENTION OF THE POET
What does the poet hope to achieve?
The poet here, wishes to convey a universal message to the reader, that one
should not believe that it is noble to die for one’s country, because of the untold
miseries which soldiers experience.
To the poet, neither fame nor glory can compensate for the immense suffering
that war inflicts on humanity.
The mood conveyed in the poem is one of anger, revulsion and disgust.
The impact of the incident in which the soldier is caught in an explosion and the
agony he suffers is one of loathing and revulsion.
“I saw him drowning”
“guttering, choking, drowning” shows the immense suffering of a dying soldier.
THE MAIN INCIDENT
The traumatic experience of a soldier who is caught in a sudden explosion while
returning to his camp.
The poet achieves his purpose or intention through his use of intense language
and vivid imagery.
These are the similes used by the poet to make the images interesting and
1. “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks.”
Here the soldiers returning from the battle field look like old beggars, bent with
age and exhaustion, carrying their sacks on their backs. The comparison is
appropriate as it appeals to the visual sense and brings the readers face to face
with the exhausted soldiers.
2. “knock-kneed, coughing like hags”
The image of the knock-kneed soldiers coughing like hags, shows the terrible
effect of the smell of gun powder, and gun shots. It appeals to the auditory sense
and reminds the reader of the sounds of old people coughing.
3. “And floundering like a man in fire or lime”
The image presents the soldier in a state of panic, unable to move in any fixed
direction as he is trapped in the fire.
The reader can see the movements of the soldier, like a blind man floundering
and fumbling to find his way.
4. His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin”
The comparison vividly describes the look of the soldier in agony and pain during
the final moments of his death.
LANGUAGE OF THE POEM
These are some examples of the poet’s use of emotive and intense language
“We cursed through sludge”
“limped on blood-shod
“Drunk with fatigue”
“He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning”
“White eyes writhing in his face”
The language used is both appropriate and effective and evokes the sympathy