The year 2018 marks the centennial of Wilfred Owen’s death and provides an appropriate opportunity for a reexamination of the poet’s work. One of Owen’s best-known poems, “Dulce et Decorum Est,” though much anthologized, has not received the close scrutiny it deserves, particularly in terms of its linguistic and rhetorical features. While the poem’s intensely felt emotions and horrific imagery capture the reader’s attention at first, upon closer examination it is the artful diction, syntax, and construction of the argument that prove particularly compelling. In challenging what was considered a noble truth and in confronting an audience opposed to his message, Owen undertook a daunting rhetorical task in writing “Dulce et Decorum Est.” The poem employs strategies from classical rhetoric to achieve its goal of persuading a hostile audience to rethink its acceptance of a cherished belief. In repudiating this belief, Owen helped shift the discursive frame surrounding war.


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pp. 1-17
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