Powerfull image of soldiers not in glory in wonderful uniform but like old tramps and beggars.
"Knock-kneed, caughing like hags, we cursed through sludge"
Army is not healthy, ill broke. Not a group of fit young men, old before their time. Covered in mud flesh blood and bone in the bottom of the trenches.
"Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs"
Much of the fighting was done 24hours a day , at night the officersused flares to light up the battle. They also used them to signal the end of an advance. The soldiers would then have to walk back through the battle fields to rest stations. Often treading over the dead and thick mud.
"and towards the haunting flares we turned our backs"
Long way back soldiers been fighting with no food or rest for days. Image of wary tired soldiers.
"many had lost their boots"
This was common their uniforms and boots did not fit many men. Some soldiers were so involved with the fighting they did notice until later. Their feet had trench foot a rotting disease because of the damp covered in blood and mud.
"but limped on, blood-shod"
These lines give you the reality of the war for an individual they were deaf because of the constant punding of the guns heard across the channel in england.
"Gas! Gas! Quick, boys! A ectsasy of fumbling"
Suddenly a gas attack happens. Shells of gas were used. Chemical warfare. Choking cynaide gas. Killed many people. Ecstasy and fumbling giving the impression of touching oneself. Searching your own body fo the mask you should have been carrying. Many sodiers lost their masks. Powerfull imagery as it suggests human contact being a human being in this liveing hell of war.
"fitting the clumsy helments just in time"
The helmets were not fit for purpose the army were given poor outdated equipment. Not very glorious.
"but someone still was yelling out and stumpbling"
The use of the word "someone" suggests that the person was not a friend known to Owen but there were vast numbers of people in the trenches and you had to look after your own survival. Friendships did not last long again reminds us that these people in the rags and mud were men and human.
"As under a green sea, i saw him drowning"
The next few lines give the impression of how helpless Owen is to help in this situation. The green smoke makes the scene look dream like as they watch the soldier die.
"He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning"
The gas suffocates the soldier who had survived the battle and was returning to the rest station for sleep. His sleep is final. Not a glorious death by the others who have never been to war.
"if in some smothering dreams you too could pace"
In this last stanza he is speaking directly to others, home in England who write propoganda to encourage young men to go to war thinking that it is glorious and noble thing to do.
"obscene as cancer, bitter as the cud of vile, incurable sores on innocent tongues"
These soldiers are innocents, young boys, they did not make the war, they did not start it but they are dying in it.
"my firend, you would not tell with such high zest"
Directly telling off the propagandists at home. They would speak differently about the glories of dying for your country if they truly knew what it was like in reality.
"to children ardent for some desperate glory"
They are telling young boys untruths about the glories of war and abusing their positions.
"The old lie: Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria moria"
They are telling them a falsehood selling them a dream of glorious death as many have done since Roman times and the Poems of Horace.
He died in action in France on 4th of november in 1918 age 25. The news reached his family a week later on the 11th the day that war was officialy over.
Desciption of soldiers marching back to base.
Description of gas attack.
The poets nightmares about the incident.
Description of the suffering of one particular soldier, leading up to the moral or message of the poem.