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Yet, to read the text as 'history', as a transcript of trench-horrors, is to ignore its singularity as poetry. Neither the transparent envelope of trench experience nor just language whispering to itself about itself, 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' is one of those primal moments in the history of not just English but world poetry when lyric form bears most fully the trauma of modern industrial warfare. For further use of this material please seek formal permission from the copyright holder. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.

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In the above draft-manuscript, the poem was originally dedicated, with bitter irony, to 'Jessie Pope etc' which is then crossed out and revised as ' To a certain Poetess '. Nonetheless, the dedication, rather unfairly, has consigned the author of sentimental, patriotic and popular volumes such as Jessie Pope's War Poems to eternal shame in the annals of First World War history. Jessie Pope is possibly the addressee 'My friend' too in the final stanza, though Owen could have meant writers of heroic war verse more generally, particularly those producing wartime variations on Horace's hallowed theme.

An example of contemporary patriotic war poetry written by soldiers, In sharp contrast, in 'Dulce Et Decorum Est', he sets the war-ravaged body and mind against the abstract rhetoric of honour and sacrifice.

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In the process, he plays three separate experiences — a night march, a gas attack and traumatic neurosis — along an almost single vertical bodily axis as he traces the very pulse of pain as it moves from exposed feet in the first stanza to exposed nerves in the final one. Time is held in suspense as one nightmarish experience follows, and blurs into, another until the final part of the poem is literally about a nightmare: the repetitive rhythm of the march gives way to the traumatic compulsion to repeat.

But any simple notion of 'passivity' that he reductively levels at Owen is countered in the poem not by the 'tragic joy' that Yeats privileged but by an altogether new kind of aesthetic and empathy. Pain and theatricality are often the twin components in Owen's poetry.

"The Philosophy of Horror" by Dr. Garret Merriam

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks, Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge, Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs, And towards our distant rest began to trudge. Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots, But limped on, blood-shod.

All went lame; all blind; Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots Of tired, out-stripped Five-Nines that dropped behind. The opening lines, through their alliterative and visual force, situate the bodies in our field of perception: bent-double, knock-kneed, the soldiers continue to limp with their bloodied feet as iambs and trochees straggle within the pentameter in order to keep up with the somnambulist rhythm of the march.

Underneath 'blood-shod', one can hear the pararhyme 'bloodshed'. Mustard gas corrodes the body from within.

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A striking piece of war realism, the poem also tunnels into his private medical history. The night-march gives way, abruptly and dramatically, to the terror of a gas attack. If the ageing civilian painter John Singer Sargent, in his famous commemorative painting Gassed presents us with an orderly file of gassed and blinded soldiers - all tall and blond and moving by touching the man in front - Owen the young combatant plunges us into the thick of action through repetition, capitalisation and exclamations:.

Quick, boys!


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Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light, As under a green sea, I saw him drowning. The word remains a challenge to the transparency and realism of the poem, and to critical interpretation. In Owen, the light seems to have thickened into an almost tactile space 'thick green light' perceived through the celluloid windows of the British Smoke Hood - a rudimentary form of gas-mark - as details from the trench-life are harnessed into this visual-aural-haptic drama.

The realism is stark and shocking: this is poetry as exposure, as pity, as acutely political.


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On May, , a trembling and stammering Owen, diagnosed with shell shock , was admitted to Craiglockhart War Hospital under the care of Arthur Brock. In Sherston's Progress , Sassoon vividly remembers how at night the whole hospital reverted to the 'underworld of dreams' as each man relived his 'submerged memories of warfare'. In all my dreams before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning. As Owen shifts war trauma from the victim to the witness of the gas-attack, it gets laced with survivor guilt.

However, as Dominic Hibberd has powerfully argued, the root of such visions go beyond war trauma to his pre-War adolescent nightmares revolving around guilt, sexual conflict and unresolved tensions. Such testimony is now set against the 'desperate glory' of war propaganda and Horace's 'old Lie'. The Hydra , a magazine produced by patients at the Craiglockhart War Hospital.

Permitted Use. Anonymous artist: This material is in the Public Domain.

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Valerie Derbyshire , University of Sheffield. This book considers the relationships between British Romantic-era novelist, poet and writer of educational works for children, Charlotte Smith , and a number of visual artists of the eighteenth century with whom she had connections. It also shows a mutual influence: how the literary works of Charlotte Smith impacted the corpora of these artists. The book deliberates on how Smith utilises these aesthetics as narrative devices, making use of the tropes of the picturesque, the sublime and the beautiful, as well as that of a national British heraldic artwork, in order to produce and enhance meaning in her literary oeuvre.

Thus, Smith uses aesthetic structures as vehicles for social critique, commentating on political, gender, moral and class concerns in addition to enhancing the perceived authenticity of her own artistry. The scholarship aims to correct the common misperception that Smith was a lonely marginal figure of Romanticism and instead asserts her central position in an enormous network of key artistic figures of British Romanticism. Nicholas D. Young , American International College et al.

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