Region: TCBook Club
|The Planar Isotopies of The Passerine Islands|
Finally put together some thoughts on the poem because I really enjoyed it.
I think it's really fitting that Owen referenced Horace, a poet who was commissioned by the government in Augustan Rome, which was an incredibly nationalistic society. Imo, this background is important because "dying for your country is cool and good" was just as much government propaganda 2000 years ago as it was in the early 20th century as it is today
One kind of random thing the poem made me remember was Virgil's Aeneid. Partially because Virgil was friends with Horace, and partially because of this juxtaposition of propaganda with anti-war sentiment
The Aeneid is uhh...... complicated. It was also commissioned by the government, but unlike Horace, it wasn't just "heck yeah war!" There's this vignette that has stuck with me since the first time I read the poem. It's the story of Nisus and Euryalus. They were lovers who died together in battle, and, in no uncertain terms, Virgil makes it clear one of them was just a boy. This sort of sympathy is lacking in Horace but it's cool that Owens focuses on this by contrasting it with Horace. Just like in the Aeneid, there is an emphasis in the final bit of Dulce et Decorum Est that these men being sent off to war are hardly even men
Like Aq and Heronia said a while back, the people fighting and dying in wars are often working people with no other options, but beyond that, they are young, and there's something really tragic about that. In the US at least, people join the army for 2 reasons: 1) they've been fed nationalist propaganda and convinced what they're doing is noble, or 2) to escape poverty. We have military recruiters come to our high schools enticing literal children with promises of paid university education and cars. It's honestly just pretty horrible, and I like that Owen's poem doesn't just capture the horrors of war (which it does very well) but also the tragedy at the root of it