Using Owen's "Dulce et Decorum Est," explain what happens in the narrative of the poem. 

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huntress eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Owen wrote this poem while being treated for shell shock at Craiglockhart in Scotland. He reminisces about his experiences as infantry in World War I. The men no longer looked young and vigorous, although they were quite young; rather, they are "bent double, like old beggars under sacks," a sad and hopeless image. They are sick, "coughing like hags," and some without boots, walking in their own blood. They're so exhausted that they are "drunk with fatigue" and deaf even to the hoots of the "tired, outstripped five-nines that dropped behind." Then there's a call that gas has been dropped, so they all struggle to get their masks on in time to avoid being poisoned, but one man doesn't make it in time. Through the thick green panes of their own masks, they watch him die a horrible, agonizing death. He drowns in the blood from his own lungs. 

Owen says that he still remembers, in his dreams, watching this man die, and turns his ire upon those who get young men to enlist in the army by telling them it's fitting and sweet to die for their country, a line which Owen labels "the old Lie." 

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Dulce et Decorum Est

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