In Wilfred Owens’s poem “Dulce et Decorum Est,” the horrific suffering of a soldier submerged in the gruesome reality of war is vividly illustrated through the use of visual and auditory imagery. In the first stanza, the Speaker sets the foundation of the poem with descriptive and carefully chosen words. The Speaker wants the Reader to experience and empathize with the soldiers; to achieve this purpose he has selected words to describe the overall state of the men.
The soldiers are worn out “march asleep”, not capable of facing reality as a normal person
“drunk with fatigue”. The speaker reinforces his words with visual association, not only does the reader visualize exhausted men, we see men who are dishevelled “like old beggars’, and aged “hags” far beyond their years. As the visual depiction is built the speaker reinforces his work with alliteration, and the impression of sound. The readers can hear the repetition of the hard consonant sounds, the hard “k” in “sacks”, “knock kneed”, “coughing”, and “cursed” used to create an unhealthy environment. In the second stanza the tone of the poem changes, no longer are the men trudging along, they have come under a gas attack, “Gas! Gas! Quick Boys!” The use of short repetitious words and exclamation points create a sense of excitement and panic. The Speaker then describes one soldier falling victim to the enemies’ lethal gas. The distress of the affected soldier is