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Comparison of Dulce Et Decorum Est and This Is the Dark Time My Love

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Theme: (The theme of the poem is the subject with which the poet deals. It is the central idea around which the event or experiences revolve.)

In this poem, the central idea is the “horrors of war”.

The ghastly images of war, the torture to which soldiers are subjected, reflect the theme:

– “the haunting flares”, “gas shells dropping”

– “froth corrupted lungs”

are evidence of the atrocities of war.

Intention of the poet: (What does the poet hope to achieve?)

The poet here wishes to convey a universal message to the reader that one should not believe that it is noble to die for one’s country, because of the untold miseries which soldiers experience. To the poet, neither fame nor glory can compensate for the immense suffering that war inflicts on humanity.


The mood conveyed in the poem is one of anger, revulsion and disgust. The impact of the incident in which the soldier is caught in an explosion and the agony he suffers is one of loathing and revulsion.

– “I saw him drowning”

– “guttering, choking, drowning”

shows the immense suffering of a dying soldier.

The Main Incident:

The traumatic experience of a soldier who is caught in a sudden explosion while returning to his camp.


The poet achieves his purpose or intention through his use of intense language and vivid imagery. These are the similes used by the poet to make the images interesting and meaningful.

1. “Bent double, like old beggars under sacks.”

Here the soldiers returning from the battle field look like old beggars, bent with age and exhaustion, carrying their sacks on their backs. The comparison is appropriate as it appeals to the visual sense and brings the readers face to face with the exhausted soldiers.

2. “knock-kneed, coughing like hags”

The image of the knock-kneed soldiers coughing like hags, shows the terrible effect of the smell of gun powder, and gun shots. It appeals to the auditory sense and reminds the reader of the sounds of old people coughing.

3. “And floundering like a man in fire or lime”

The image presents the soldier in a state of panic, unable to move in any fixed direction as he is trapped in the fire. The reader can see the movements of the soldier, like a blind man floundering and fumbling to find his way.

4. “His hanging face, like a devil’s sick of sin”

The comparison vividly describes the look of the soldier in agony and pain
during the final moments of his death.

Language of the poem:

These are some examples of the poet’s use of emotive and intense language

“We cursed through sludge”

“limped on blood-shod

“Drunk with fatigue”

“He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning”

“White eyes writhing in his face”

“Froth-corrupted lungs”

The language used is both appropriate and effective and evokes the sympathy of the reader.


The theme of this poem is about a people whose dreams of a better life have been threatened by the destructive power of the ‘strange invader’.

The atmosphere of the poem is one of tension, fear, anxiety:

“Everywhere the faces of men are strained and anxious.”

This is because of the presence of soldiers: “all around the land brown beetles crawl about.”

Even nature is sympathetic to the cause of the people as expressed in the line:

“red flowers bend their heads in awful sorrow.”

The poet’s mood is one of lamentation for the misery of his people, the instability and sorrow brought about by the strange invader.

Imagery: The images appeal to the sense of sight and sound. They present visual pictures that are striking.

The picture of the soldiers, “all around the land brown beetles crawl about”, in their thick armoury, the hard covering on their backs is like beetles.

Here you hear the tramping of soldiers “whose boots of steel tramp down the slender grass”. You can also see the slender grass trampled upon and looking withered.

Figurative Language:

Metaphor: “All around the land brown beetles crawl about.”

The soldiers are compared to brown beetles.

Personification: “Red flowers bend their heads in awful sorrow.”

The poet gives the flower qualities of a human being – the emotion of sorrow.

Irony: “It is the festival of guns, the carnival of misery.”

The words “festival” and “carnival” are indicative of joyous celebrations but what the country is really experiencing is sorrow, not joy.

Understanding and Appreciating Poetry prepared by Uriel Narinesingh & Clifford Narinesingh

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