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The rhyme scheme is traditional, and each stanza features two quatrains of rhymed iambic pentameter with several spondaic substitutions."Dulce" is a message of sorts to a poet and civilian propagandist, Jessie Pope, who had written several jingoistic and enthusiastic poems exhorting young men to join the war effort.
The speaker says that if you could follow behind that wagon where the soldier's body was thrown, watching his eyes roll about in his head, see his face "like a devil's sick of sin", hear his voice gargling frothy blood at every bounce of the wagon, sounding as "obscene as cancer" and bitter as lingering sores on the tongue, then you, "my friend", would not say with such passion and conviction to children desirous of glory, "the old lie" of "Dulce et decorum est".
Analysis"Dulce et Decorum est" is without a doubt one of, if not the most, memorable and anthologized poems in Owen's oeuvre.
She is the "friend" Owen mentions near the end of his poem.
The first draft was dedicated to her, with a later revision being altered to "a certain Poetess".
One version was sent to Susan Owen, the poet's mother, with the inscription, "Here is a gas poem done yesterday (which is not private, but not final)." The poem paints a battlefield scene of soldiers trudging along only to be interrupted by poison gas.
One soldier does not get his helmet on in time and is thrown on the back of the wagon where he coughs and sputters as he dies.
" There is fumbling as they try to put on their helmets in time.
One soldier is still yelling and stumbling about as if he is on fire.
All are lame and blind, extremely tired and deaf to the shells falling behind them.
Suddenly there is gas, and the speaker calls, "Quick, boys!