Dulce et Decorum Est

Wilfred Owen--It is Sweet and Right to Die for Your Country

Wilfred Owen was born the 18th of March 1893 in Oswestry (United Kingdom). He was the eldest of four children and brought up in the Anglican religion of the evangelical school. For an evangelical, man is saved not by the good he does; but by the faith he has in the redeeming power of Christ's sacrifice. Though he had rejected much of his belief by 1913, the influence of his education remains visible in his poems and in their themes: sacrifice, Biblical language, his description of Hell.

He moved to Bordeaux (France) in 1913, as a teacher of English in the Berlitz School of Languages; one year later he was a private teacher in a prosperous family in the Pyrenees.

He enlisted in the Artists' Rifles on 21st October 1915; there followed 14 months of training in England. He was drafted to France in 1917, the worst war winter. His total war experience will be rather short: four months, from which only five weeks in the line. On this is based all his war poetry. After battle experience, thoroughly shocked by horrors of war, he went to Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh.

In August 1918, after his friend, the other great War Poet, Siegfried Sassoon, had been severely injured and sent back to England, Owen returned to France. War was still as horrid as before. The butchery was ended on 11th November 1918 at 11 o'clock. Seven days before Owen had been killed in one of the last vain battles of this war.

 

Owen's Poem Dulce et Decorum Est

The poem, “Dulce et Decorum Est,” is Latin for “It is sweet and right,” a phrase that was used extensively during the initial days of the First World War.  The poem ends with the same phase extended to include, “pro patria mori.”  The full translation implying that “It is sweet and right to die for your country,” or in other words, a great honor to fight and die for your country. Read Owen's poem at: http://www.voiceseducation.org/content/questions-reflection-%E2%80%9Cdulce-et-decorum-est%E2%80%9D-wilfred-owen.

 

Additional pages on Wilfred Owen, his life and works:

Dominic Hibberd on Wilfred Owen: http://www.voiceseducation.org/node/147.

 

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