A close analysis of "Daddy" and "Zonnebeke Road."
The two poems I have chosen to analyse are "Zonnebeke Road" by Edmund Blunden and "Daddy" by Sylvia Plath. I chose these two poems for the simple reasons that they both moved me when I read them and the fact that they are both about very deep and almost disturbing personal experiences.
"Zonnebeke Road" takes us through the thoughts, mood and gloomy surroundings of a soldier in the front line trenches on Zonnebeke Road in Belgium. Zonnebeke Road was an area of heavy fighting during the First World War where masses of soldiers were killed. This poem encapsulates the savageness and brutality of war with the use of an almost sarcastic tone, chilling imagery and the personification of nature. It is written from first hand experience of being engaged in battle.
The tone of the poem, in the beginning, is quite sarcastic in a way and almost mocking war in the face of it.
"Morning, if this late withered light can claim
Some kindred with that merry flame
Which the young day was wont to fling through space!"
After these first three lines though the tone suddenly changes and the reader becomes aware that this poem is actually about the coldness and real brutality of war, not glorified for the benefit of the reader like so many of the war poems written, for example "Soldiers Bathing" by F. T. Prince. In this poem the poet sets the scene with a calm and tranquil sea and uses religion as an excuse for war; he is proud to be at war and persuades himself he is there for the right reasons.
"Yet, as I drink the dusky air,
I feel a strange delight that fills me full,
Strange gratitude, as if evil itself were beautiful,"
Zonnebeke Road is full of imagery to emphasise the weather, the sense of fear and danger and the threat war holds over the soldiers.
"Your hands unclasp from rifles while you can,
The frost has pierced them to the bended bone?"
These lines create an image of the soldiers skeletal hands encased in ice, emphasising the harshness of the winter weather. The personification of nature throughout the second stanza emphasises the brutality of the soldier's surroundings.
"Look, how the snow-dust whisks along the road,
Piteous and silly; the stones themselves must flinch
In this east wind; the low sky like a load
Hangs over- a dead weight..."
I think the idea here is that even in the midst of all this death and decay, nature must be able to show some pathos towards the soldiers. The way the poet has described the wind as "a gargoyle shriek" is quite ominous and creates a tension rather like the tension the soldiers are feeling at going over the top of the trenches.
The structure of the poem is quite irregular in that the first stanza has seventeen lines, the second
has sixteen lines and the last stanza has just four lines. The rhyme scheme is also irregular, although there is a definite rhyme throughout the poem. The last stanza, however, has no...