Why does the poet repeat the title in the last line of "Dulce et Decorum Est"?

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The phrase "Dulce et decorum est / Pro partria mori" is from Horace's Odes, a collection of poems by the Roman poet. Essentially, it means "it is sweet and proper to die for one's country." In his poem "Dulce et Decorum Est," Wilfred Owen illustrates the human...

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The phrase "Dulce et decorum est / Pro partria mori" is from Horace's Odes, a collection of poems by the Roman poet. Essentially, it means "it is sweet and proper to die for one's country." In his poem "Dulce et Decorum Est," Wilfred Owen illustrates the human misery and horror of war through a series of arresting images. Soldiers are slogging their way through mud, "bent double" and "coughing like hags." Amid the horror of a gas attack, one unfortunate soldier cannot get his mask on quickly enough, and he dies in front of his comrades, "guttering, choking, drowning" with his "white eyes writhing in his face."

Owen concludes that any person who had witnessed these scenes would recognize that the line from Horace was a lie. By situating the line at the end of the poem, Owen juxtaposes its sentimental view of war with his own view, based on experience, that war is inhuman and horrific. There is nothing "sweet and proper" about a soldier's death, and to a man choking to death in a muddy trench from exposure to poison gas, it is no consolation at all that he died for his country. In short, he saves the line from Horace for the end of the poem in order to illustrate the absurdity of the sentiment it reflected in the most powerful way possible.

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