War Poetry War has an everlasting effect on the inure world, but the one group of people that have the worst experience are those that are on the frontline – the soldiers. They are often glorified and portrayed to be patriots for their country, which is frequently conveyed through poetry. I disagree with this view, and the following three poems written by past soldiers support my view on war. Siegfried Swanson is a renowned World War 1 poet who was in service from 1914 to 1917, when he then took a stand against the conduct of war.
When Swanson flirts began writing his poetry, he did so tit an alarm of romance and sweetness. After becoming horrified by the reality of war, his writing then became increasingly brutal to convey the truth and ugliness of war in order to crush the glorification and patriotism that is associated with it. Suicide in the Trenches was written during Season’s military service and published in his 1918 collection of literary work, and is a self-explanatory title for what the following poem is about.
It Is written in 3 4-lined stanza’s and has the rhyming pattern AFFECTEDLY. Alliteration Is a favored technique used by Swanson, along with the SE of adjectives, imagery, contrast, symbolism, ‘l knew a simple soldier boy is the opening line of the poem. Boy is used as a way to convey the soldier’s innocence and youthfulness, in comparison to him being referred to as a man. Season’s use of the word simple tells us that the soldier has not a care in the world – he is happy, carefree, naive and doesn’t understand the depth of the severity of war. Empty Joy is used a way to convey that the soldier smiles at everything – he’s young, has no worries and this gives a notion of how Immature he must have been. The loneliness f the dark can often feel Isolating, and the soldier was able to sleep soundly, which can imply that after he sees the battlefront, dark means a threat of an attack, thus making him restless in the emptiness that is the dark. Whistling is commonly used to show an upbeat attitude, and though he is up early, this does not hinder his mood as he whistles with the lark – a spring bird.
The lark is a representation of his youthfulness, and as spring brings positive attitudes, this is a contrast to the following stanza that begins In winter. Winter weather has always been associated tit negative emotions, which implies that the depression fuelled by war has now started. Cowed and glum is used to tell us that the soldier is intimidated, and frightened of the war. His emotions now contrast the beginning of the poem, as the seasons changed, so did the soldiers attitude. He sinks into his depression, and ‘lice and lack of rum’ represents the dirtiness of the trenches and the meager supplies on the battlefront.
The lack of rum also represents his nervousness, as soldiers were given rum to calm their nerves before going on the frontline. The alliteration of the otter B in ‘He put a bullet through his brain,’ emphasizes the bitterness of the tone and adds to the harshness at the climax of the poem – his death. The alliteration is also effective as if you were to remove the remaining words, you would still receive the same message. Soldiers that die in the pit are forgotten every day. Death is a common occurrence in war and the individual personalities of soldiers are lost to speak directly to the reader.
The public are conceited and as much as they think they can, they cannot empathic with those returning from war. They think that by herring for the survivors they are being patriotic. Kindling is used to describe the start of a fire, and Swanson adopts this word to represent the shining eyes of the crowd. The crowd assume a superficial countenance when the soldiers walk by. War is not glorious, but the crowd believe otherwise. Hell is used as a metaphor for the destination for the lost youth and laughter of the soldiers.
People are sent to Hell to be punished, and Swanson uses this to compare to the war. He believes it is dark, evil and depressing, and while the soldiers are sent to hell, some remain there whilst there bring pieces of it back home with them. He wants those in the crowd to pray they’ll never know what he and many others have lived, and died, through. SST. James Aeolian served in the Second World War in the 10th infantry division, where he toured Europe fighting. He was wounded in action and received a purple heart, though he never spoke about his experiences in the war with his family.
After his passing in 2007, his family found a poem that he wrote where he describes his experience in killing a man in action. The poem is titled Murder: Most Foul, which is borrowed from Shakespearean Hamlet. It has six 4-lined stanzas and a final 5-lined stanza, with each having different rhyming patterns. The first two stanzas have the pattern BACKED, stanzas three through six have the pattern ABACA, and the 5-line stanza has the pattern ABACA. The poem utilizes multiple techniques including repetition, rhyme, imagery and metaphor.
Aeolian uses the terms ‘surprise’ and ‘strangest’ to convey the rarity and unusualness of what was happening. He began to cry for he killed fellow man in cold blood. This was unusual as he was going to war to fight, but when he shot a man he regained his conscience, only too late. So young holds more power than referring to the soldier as Just young, and this is repeated again with the addition of Very to give additional emphasis on his age. He was an innocent boy which is told through the fear in his eyes. He left his homeland to fight, only to be shot dead in Holland.
The opening two lines of the third stanza can be open to interpretation by anybody, but I believe it meant that Aeolian thought that if the soldier’s family were praying for him back home, God may have spared his life. Aeolian uses the word murdered as it evokes more powerful emotions than killed or hot. Murder is illegal in any other situation, and Aeolian does not see a difference with killing in war and murdering. Though Aeolian served for his country, when it came down to killing another man, he immediately felt pangs of remorse.
The soldier was his enemy and they were at war, it was either kill or be killed. Although Aeolian had to defend his own life, he still knew it was wrong and unfair for them to both be in a war that is not their own. He calls the soldier ‘brother’ while he is dying in his hands, in an attempt to relate to him – they were brothers of war. The soldier responds with Mother, which can tell us his final thoughts were not occupied with war, but his life at home. The final stanza repeats the beginning of the first, which is used to show the finality of the poem and emphasize his surprise of the situation again.
Murdering somebody changes the way that you are forever, and people have noted that those that do murder have drained, lifeless eyes. I believe Aeolian was implying that the part of him that died with the soldier was him life, Joy and Division Vietnam, his serving years from 1969-70. It is titled ‘After the War’ and epics the effects of war on soldiers after they return home. This single 16-line stanza includes two techniques – symbolism and rhyme, although there is no consistent pattern with the rhyming.
Though the soldier has returned home, alive and well, there is emotional damage – a tear – that is irreparable and awaits its chance to surface. The term ‘civilians’ is used as a method to separate the soldiers from the people, and is used as a synonym for people as it dehumidifies them. The civilians are restricted from the horror and the carnage’ that is war, thus resulting in commonly patriotic view by the public, when in reality, they would be unable to handle the harsh actuality of the battlefield. Breaks does not definitively know what effect the war has on individuals as it is something incomprehensible and indescribable.
A 6. 1. Joe is a child’s toy soldier, and is used to name the soldier as it feels more real and personal, as almost every home has seen a 6. 1. Joe figurine. ‘Tipped the balance’ refers to, I believe, the chemical balance in the soldiers mind. Breaks doesn’t know what happened specifically, but he identifies that the soldier is significantly damaged. ‘Calmer waters’ refers to the soldier’s home where he can return to his previous lifestyle. However, the war has an everlasting effect and he has difficulty adapting back to his regular way of life.
He has been ‘shaken’ and he cannot simply come back from the horrendous sights he has had to witness. The price they pay for defending their country is to slowly, but surely, lose their sanity and human qualities. They can occupy themselves during the day to distract their mind from their memories, but they are unable to escape their dreams. The war may be over, UT a new war has begun inside themselves. The three poems I have chosen tie in together in the sense that they show the damage that war does to the ones fighting.
They are all written by someone that once served for their country, and they all have similar views – that wars may end, but they last until the soldier’s death. The first poem speaks about how the war inevitably makes you succumb to depressive thoughts and brings you to your death by your own hands, the second poem speak of the unjust circumstances that war puts you in and how wrong it is that soldiers are raised for killing a fellow human being, and the final poem recognizes that war leaves permanent damage to the soldiers mind and can induce anti-social behavior as the returning soldiers cannot slip back into their previous lifestyle.
These poems support my view on war as I believe that war is not fought with purpose. They begin through prejudice, Jealousy, and the desire for domination. I do not understand how in everyday life you can kill somebody and be sent to Jail, but in a war situation you are praised and glorified. Soldiers that go to war are given not false, but not entirely rue, information about what war is like. They are misled to believe that war is fun, and holds the opportunity for great memories.
Those recruiting forget to mention the toll of losing your closest friends, and watching the life drain from the enemy by your own hand. Taking someone’s life is illegal, and these soldiers are given free rein to murder in another country. The emotional toll these soldiers suffer during and after their service lead to self-mutilation and self-destruction. The American military reported 350 self-inflicted deaths of active duty personnel in 2009, and for every death, at least five serving personnel were hospitalized for attempted suicides.