Dulce et Decorum Est Questions and Answers
by Wilfred Owen

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Pope's “The Call” and Owen’s “Dulce et Decorum Est”. Discuss how sound contributes to the two poems’ very different tones and themes (meanings) and their very different views of war (you should have one paragraph for each poem)

For your paragraph on Jessie Pope's poem, you could discuss how the cheery, singsong “e” sound makes war seem like a fun, exuberant game. For your paragraph on Wilfred Owen's poem, you could talk about how the harsh, intricate consonant sounds reflect the severity of the poem’s images.

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For your paragraph on Jessie Pope, you could discuss the sound "laddie". That "e" sound sticks with us. It's a rather delicate, vulnerable sound, which, we suppose, aligns with the role of the "laddie." The “laddie” seems impressionable. He's susceptible and vulnerable to the poet’s rhetoric. Why wouldn't the "laddie" want to "charge and shoot" and "earn the Empire's thanks"?

The rhyme, the call-and-response, and the emphasis on "e" make the poem sound like a kid's poem. That, in turn, makes war sound like a fun children's game. As Pope was a pro-war poet, it makes sense for her to try and represent war as an infantile game instead of as something real, terrifying, and deadly.

That brings us to "Dulce et Decorum Est" by Wilfred Owen. When you read this poem out loud, how does it sound? Do you notice regular "e" sounds? Does it sound like a fun song or delightful ditty or pleasant nursery rhyme? It doesn't sound like any of those things to us.

We do notice a rhyme scheme. Yet the words that come before the rhymes sound so harsh and hard that there isn't much fun when you actually get to the rhyme itself.

In Owen's poem, we notice more consonants than vowels. Consonants don't make the poem sound so singsong. Perhaps that's the point.

Pope's poem sounds upbeat and fun because she's trying to persuade people to fight in a war. Owen's poem sounds severe and cold because he's fought in a war and it wasn't exuberant or glorious.

In Owen's poem, the pleasant sounds are replaced by terrifying images, like blood "gargling from the froth-corrupted lungs."