Study Guide

Dulce et Decorum Est Patriotism

By Wilfred Owen


"My friend, you would not tell with such high zest
To children ardent for some desperate glory,
The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori
." (25-28)

In this deeply ironic account of the efforts to get young men to enroll in the armed forces, the "zest" for patriotism and glory is undercut by all of the horrors that occur earlier in the poem. Owen's choice of the word "children" is an interesting one: it points to an innocence that will be lost forever once the "boys" step onto the battlefield.

"Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori." (27-28)

Read by schoolchildren throughout Britain, this excerpt from Horace's works can be translated as "It is sweet and proper to die for one's country."

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