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Can you find the pity that Owen meant when saying "the poetry is in the pity" about the...

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irislirisl | Student, Grade 11 | (Level 1) Honors

Posted February 18, 2013 at 4:53 PM via web

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Can you find the pity that Owen meant when saying "the poetry is in the pity" about the poem "Dulce et Decorum Est"?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted February 18, 2013 at 6:31 PM (Answer #1)

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In his ironic poem whose title certainly belies the message, the beauty of the poetry lies in the lyric compassion that is expressed for the soldiers who experience the horrors of World War I.  With a narrator whose voice seems to echo that of the poet himself, the graphic descriptions are, though horrific, lyrical in their double images that unify into a single vision. For instance, in line 2, 

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Owen conjoins the images of the soldiers trudging with wobbly legs and equally feeble lungs. Then, in lines 7 and 8, Owen unites kinesthetic with aural imagery:

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of tired, outstripped Five-Nines that dropped behind

Replete with these poignant images, Owen's poem evinces the pity of the reader. The "poetry is in the pity," the dirge-like lyricism of the genuine and deep emotion that is a personal rendition of the horrible images experienced by the poet himself that end with the ironic and bitter recitation of the patriotic phrase "Dulce et Decorum Est," it is "sweet and right"

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