In "Dulce et Decorum Est," Owen rejects the commonly accepted idea that fighting for your country is a glorious and heroic thing to do. To emphasize this message, Owen portrays the harsh realities of life on the battlefield. In the first stanza, for example, he depicts soldiers as exhausted ("drunk with fatigue"), injured ("bent double"), and generally very weary from war, like "old beggars."
In addition, Owen dispels the myth of war's glory by describing in detail the realities of a gas attack. His use of imagery is designed to shock the reader by appealing to all of the senses. Owen talks about the "gargling" sound of blood, for instance, and describes the "incurable sores" left behind.
In the final lines of the poem, Owen goes one step further by calling the idea of glory in battle an "old lie." His damning indictment is now complete.