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Reading Poetry: 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' 1

In this worksheet, students read the first part of the poem 'Dulce Et Decorum Est' by Wilfred Owen and use their skills to extract and interpret information.

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Support Comprehension Through Knowledge

Difficulty level:  

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QUESTION 1 of 10

Read the first half of the famous poem by Wilfred Owen below. It is describing the conditions soldiers in the First World War (1914-1918) had to live through when they were in the trenches.

 

 

*******************

Dulce Et Decorum Est

 

 

Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,

Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,

Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs

And towards our distant rest began to trudge.

Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots

But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;

Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots

Of disappointed shells that dropped behind.

 

GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!-- An ecstasy of fumbling,

Fitting the clumsy helmets just in time;

But someone still was yelling out and stumbling

And floundering like a man in fire or lime.--

Dim, through the misty panes and thick green light

As under a green sea, I saw him drowning.

 

In all my dreams, before my helpless sight,

He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning...

 

*******************

 

 

Now answer the following questions on this extract. If you need to read it again as you go through the worksheet, you can do so by clicking on the Help button.

Owen uses TWO similes in the first two lines of the poem. Which of these phrases are the similes?

bent double

like old beggars under sacks

knock-kneed

coughing like hags

we cursed through sludge

Owen says that the soldiers are marching "towards our distant rest". This could have TWO meanings. Choose them from the phrases below.

Towards the hospital

Towards their beds for the night

Towards the Germans

Towards their deaths

Towards England

Wilfred Owen writes that the men are "Drunk with fatigue". Which feature of language is he using here? 

alliteration

metaphor

simile

Owen uses the phrase "Disappointed shells". This is personification, the shells cannot be disappointed as they are merely objects. This phrase makes us feel that the war is...

violent and brutal

exciting and eventful

pointless and unending

All of a sudden, the poem changes and something happens:

"GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!" Tells us that the soldiers are under attack from chemical weapons and they need to get their masks on quickly.

 

How does the writer tell us that something in the poem has changed through the punctuation he uses? Write the words that fill in these two gaps in the box below.

He uses ____________  _______.

What happens to the man who cannot get his mask on in time?

He ends up in the hospital.

He 'drowns' in the air - he cannot breathe and so he dies.

He is the writer.

To add dramatic effect, Owen uses a literary technique here: "He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning."  What do we call this?

rule of three

repetition

assonance

In this poem, Owen does not describe the soldiers in a typical, brave way. He shows us the ugly reality of war - that it is mostly a long, pointless exercise in suffering. It is not heroic and exciting.

 

Which of the following phrases came from this poem, and which are typical 'heroic' ways of thinking about soldiers and war?

 Typical soldiers/war View on war shown in the poem
like hags
bold
lame
blind
valiant
fatigue
limped on
strong
clumsy
fumbling

The narrator of the poem describes seeing another soldier; "As under a green sea". Which literary technique is Wilfred Owen using here?

Owen uses the word "helpless" to describe the situation. Is he just talking about the man who is dying? 

Yes - there is a man being gassed in front of him.

No - he also means the whole situation of the war.

  • Question 1

Owen uses TWO similes in the first two lines of the poem. Which of these phrases are the similes?

CORRECT ANSWER
like old beggars under sacks
coughing like hags
EDDIE SAYS
Similes describe one thing being 'like' or 'as ____ as' another.
  • Question 2

Owen says that the soldiers are marching "towards our distant rest". This could have TWO meanings. Choose them from the phrases below.

CORRECT ANSWER
Towards their beds for the night
Towards their deaths
EDDIE SAYS
Owen suggests that the soldiers will either be resting in their beds at the end of their march, or they are marching to their deaths.
  • Question 3

Wilfred Owen writes that the men are "Drunk with fatigue". Which feature of language is he using here? 

CORRECT ANSWER
metaphor
EDDIE SAYS
It is a metaphor - the men are not literally drunk, but they are so tired they are behaving like they are.
  • Question 4

Owen uses the phrase "Disappointed shells". This is personification, the shells cannot be disappointed as they are merely objects. This phrase makes us feel that the war is...

CORRECT ANSWER
pointless and unending
  • Question 5

All of a sudden, the poem changes and something happens:

"GAS! Gas! Quick, boys!" Tells us that the soldiers are under attack from chemical weapons and they need to get their masks on quickly.

 

How does the writer tell us that something in the poem has changed through the punctuation he uses? Write the words that fill in these two gaps in the box below.

He uses ____________  _______.

CORRECT ANSWER
exclamation marks
EDDIE SAYS
The use of exclamation marks changes the tempo of the poem and evokes a sense of panic.
  • Question 6

What happens to the man who cannot get his mask on in time?

CORRECT ANSWER
He 'drowns' in the air - he cannot breathe and so he dies.
  • Question 7

To add dramatic effect, Owen uses a literary technique here: "He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning."  What do we call this?

CORRECT ANSWER
rule of three
  • Question 8

In this poem, Owen does not describe the soldiers in a typical, brave way. He shows us the ugly reality of war - that it is mostly a long, pointless exercise in suffering. It is not heroic and exciting.

 

Which of the following phrases came from this poem, and which are typical 'heroic' ways of thinking about soldiers and war?

CORRECT ANSWER
 Typical soldiers/war View on war shown in the poem
like hags
bold
lame
blind
valiant
fatigue
limped on
strong
clumsy
fumbling
  • Question 9

The narrator of the poem describes seeing another soldier; "As under a green sea". Which literary technique is Wilfred Owen using here?

CORRECT ANSWER
simile
similes
a simile
  • Question 10

Owen uses the word "helpless" to describe the situation. Is he just talking about the man who is dying? 

CORRECT ANSWER
No - he also means the whole situation of the war.
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