The poem "Dulce et Decorum Est" by World War I poet Wilfred Owen does not adhere to any sort of formal poetic structure. Its four-stanza structure is irregular, as the first stanza contains 8 lines, the second stanza 6 lines, the third stanza 2 lines, and the final stanza 12 lines. A rhyme scheme does exist, but it too is irregular, overlapping stanzas in a rhythmic yet slightly unpredictable manner.
The irregularity of the poem's structure contributes greatly to the experience of reading the poem. It is disorienting to read, much like the mustard gas that is the central image of the image was disorienting to the men who suffered from the effects of the poison during the war. As well, the imagery of the drowning man, helplessly grasping at anything, grabs hold of the reader unexpectedly, in his own 2-line stanza, highlighting the plight of the individual in this war that killed en masse.
Though the poem has no formal structure, that is not to say that the irregular structure that can be identified is meaningless. In fact, the irregularity is part of the point and the experience that the poet desires to communicate to his readers.