The term 'blood-shod' (line 6) means literally that the soldiers are wearing shoes of blood; they are having to wade through all the blood and gore that surrounds them in the midst of trench warfare. The phrase is a play on the common word 'bloodshed' and heightens the vividness of the grim scene, as does the poem in general. The poet's utter revulsion at the whole business is never in doubt. Owen lays bare the horrors of war with his brutally vivid descriptions, culminating in the final verse with the portrayal of a man who is gassed:
the white eyes writhing in his face,
His hanging face, like a devil's sick of sin (lines 19-20)
Owen's aim in this poem, and in his poetryas a whole, is to denounce the evils of war. At this time many people were simply not aware of just how bad things really were in the trenches of World War I. Owen aimed to shock them out of their complacency and to get rid of any illusions that war is a fine and noble thing, as claimed by some, for example the Latin poet Horace. The title of the poem is part of a quote from Horace, and the whole quote is given at the end of the poem:
Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori (lines 27-28)
This can be translated as: 'It is sweet and right to die for your country'. Owen aimed to expose this idea as 'The old Lie' (line 27).