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Dulce et Decorum Est — It is Sweet and Right

A few days ago, I talked about the first poem I can recall reading, in honour of National Poetry Month. That poem was the first step towards my love affair with reading; the poem I’m going to talk about today was one of the first steps towards my love affair with poetry.

Today’s poem is “Dulce et Decorum Est”, written by Wilfred Owen during World War I. I read it in English class last year and my love of it is probably owing to my fabulous teacher’s excellent and extensive analysis. My copy of the poem is completely filled with my notes, to the point that you can barely even see the actual text. We dissected nearly every word, however unlike when those weirdos who take Sciences dissect frogs — where they learn something, but then it’s dead — dissecting this poem just  made it come more alive, on so many more levels. In addition to all the insight it provided about the war, this was the first work that really showed me the importance that each and every word carries.

I love this poem (and all my annotations) so much that a whole year after learning it, I dug out my old English binder to find this poem and hang it in my room. It’s still there and, as a writer, it’s a really beautiful example of effective writing techniques paired with insightful content.

Even aside from hanging on my wall, this poem refuses to stay out of my life.  When I was in England over the summer, I was at the British Library and saw an original draft of it, in Owen’s handwriting , with an extra verse that he later removed as well as various crossed out and replaced words and sentences. It was so fascinating to see a great poet’s writing process seemingly take place before my eyes. To see the way real writers put so much thought into each word, rather than just throwing a bunch of them on a page and calling it a day. This poem, in conjunction with the original manuscript of Jane Eyre in Charlotte Bronte’s handwriting, made me burst into awed, overwhelmed tears. Clearly I get a little emotional over silly stuff like great literature.

Then in my Literature class, we read the book Regeneration, a fictionalized account of Craiglockhart War Hospital, which includes real, live people like Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon. So of course we had to read “Dulce et Decorum Est”, which is (as I may have mentioned) one of my favourite poems. And it reminded me of my trip to the British Library. So of course I felt the need to start tearing up over this in the middle of class. Yeah. That was kind of awkward…

Well, now I have to go finish writing an essay for my Ethics class… So here’s a link to the poem, I hope you love it as much as I do.

http://www.warpoetry.co.uk/owen1.html

So? What do you think? Do you love it as much as I do? (You probably don’t —  that would be impossible.) Furthermore, tomorrow (April 26) is Poem In Your Pocket Day, a day when people carry poems. In their pockets. It’s that simple! What poem are YOU carrying with you? Is it in your pocket or in your head?  Both count in my book.

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About Elizabeth Anne

I’m obsessed with novels, short stories, poetical works &c., and my family has refused to put up with my ranting and raving about these things any longer, so I’ve decided to ramble to you, the internet.

2 responses »

  1. Thank you for posting this. I compared Owen’s method to how I write (NOT myself to Owen) as I read it.

    More fascinating than the manuscript of ‘Jane Eyre’ would be the working manuscript for ‘Wuthering Heights’, to see if any trace of Branwell’s hand could be found! 🙂

    M
    __________
    Marie Marshall
    author/poet/editor
    Scotland
    http://mairibheag.com
    http://kvennarad.wordpress.com

    Reply
    • I’m glad you enjoyed my post. Personally I enjoyed Jane Eyre more than Wuthering Heights. And on the whole, I’m definitely more of an Austen girl. Thanks for dropping by. 🙂

      Reply

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