Dulce et Decorum est

Wilfred Owen is one of the most famous poets of the First World War. Poems such as  ‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’, ‘The Show’ as well as ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ were for many people the first time they had heard the reality of what life was like for front-line troops.

Owen wrote the poem whilst being treated at Craiglockheart hospital in Edinburgh where he wrote and redrafted many of his poems, along with fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon, who he met there. 

The poem takes its its title from a poem by Roman poet Horace, and means “it is sweet and fitting to die for one’s country”. The poem was originally dedicated to dedicated to Jessie Pope, a poet who was known for writing pro-war propaganda poems, such as ‘War Girls’. Owen famously said that ‘all a poet can do today is warn’ and felt it was his duty to tell people about the horrors of the First World War, in this instance, the brutality of gas warfare.

In Germany, many painters were doing the same thing, but in the UK it is often felt that poems like ‘Dulce et Decorum est’ shaped our view of the war.

Owen’s poetry frequently uses  internal rhyme and techniques such as assonance to create half-rhymes. As Joelle states in her interview, these are techniques that are used frequently in spoken word and hip-hop and help shape her reading.

You can also watch on Vimeo.

Writing resources – Joelle Taylor and Wilfred Owen