The central message of Owen's poem features a stinging rebuke of war. The poem captures the innocence of soldiers who are put in harm's way without the faintest of idea that what they engage upon is the embodiment of futility and suffering. The message of "Dulce et Decorum Est" has value today for wars continue to be waged and young soldiers find themselves having to confront horrors that never leave them as a result.
The central message of the poem can be seen in the imagery that Owen uses to describe the soldier in World War I. The mental picture of "old beggars under sacks" is matched with "coughing like hags" who trudge through sludge. The image of the soldier in World War I is far from the triumphant countenance that those of the propaganda machine wanted to paint. From such illusion, this crushing reality has presented itself:
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
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