Study Questions, Activities, and Resources: Wilfred Owen

Study Questions and Activities

Dulce et Decorum Est

  1. Read Dr. Stuart Lee’s Background to “Dulce et Decorum Est.” Which one of the four do you prefer and why?
  2. Notice the subtitle in the first: “To a Certain Poetess” Who might that be? Remember to click on the Stage 1 and 2 links at bottom right.


  1. What has occurred just before the poem begins?
  2. What scene do you visualize at the opening of the poem?
  3. Who is speaking? What is his relation to “him”?
  4. To whom is he speaking in line 1?
  5. Why does the speaker want “him” moved into the sun?
  6. What reasons does the speaker give for thinking the sun will help?
  7. What is the connotation of “sun”? “snow”? “clay”?
  8. What does “fatuous” mean?
  9. Rhythm: How should we read the second stanza? What effect do the many hyphens have on the tempo of our reading?
  10. How does the title relate to the theme?


  1. What does the acronym stand for? (These letters constitute an army acronym. For a good definition and discussion of acronyms, click on
  2. Characterize Tim’s father. In what way is it true that Tim died “smiling”?

Smile, Smile, Smile

  1. To what popular wartime song is Owen alluding to in the title? What is meant by the Mail?


Anthem for Doomed Youth

  1. What kind of sonnet is this? What is its rhyme scheme? 




Figure 1
Wilfred Owen plate from Poems (1920) by Unknown ( is in the Public Domain