Throughout history, wars have been waged, won, and lost by people. Poets react to the war experience by pointing out the tolls exacted, as well as the rewards of victory. In this essay, a number of poems are analyzed to explore the literary tools and strategies used by the poets to express their feelings and beliefs. The artistic poetry deepens our understanding of the lines beyond the used words.
In his poem “Anthem for Doomed Youth”, Wilfred Owen uses a title that sets the theme of the poem. He considers the young soldiers sent to the battlefield to be doomed. The setting is the war fronts at the time of World War I. Owen uses auditory imagery in the first stanza. One can feel Owen’s frustration, even anger, when he questions the futility of burial rituals in the first line, “What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?” (line 1). He goes on with the auditory imagery with the sounds of guns and rifles raging in the battle; the sounds of choirs and prayers; and the bugles “calling for them from sad shires.” (line 8).
In addition, personification is used by the poet when he likens the roar of guns to “monstrous anger” (line 2). The piercing sound of fired shells is nothing less than “demented choirs”, another personification (line 7). Owen employs anaphora to emphasize his point “Only the monstrous anger of the guns. / Only the stuttering rifles’ rapid rattle” (line 2, 3). In the last six lines, Owen resorted to visual imagery. We are touched by the image of the glimmering tears in the eyes of boys bidding farewell to the fallen soldiers. Owen succeeds to make us visualize the sorrow and sadness of these children for losing their loved ones. Towards the end of the poem, Owen symbolizes the tragic end of the dead soldiers when he says, “And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.” (line 14). The poem clearly reveals the standing of the poet on the issue of war. He imparts on us that wars are insane and their atrocities are intolerable. He draws out attention to the fact that the brutality of war is often shielded from the general public who looks at war as a glorious act of heroism and patriotism. The truth is, according to Owen, war is uncivilized and should be avoided.
“The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy was written in the wake of the brutal war between Britain and the South African people, also known as the Boer War. That war ended in victory for Britain who colonized the South African country. The speaker in the poem talks about his experience in the battlefield when he shoots and kills a soldier from the opposing army. Hardy does not show heated emotions in the poem. He rather sounds his reflections about the regrettable fact that he killed another man. In the first stanza, Hardy hypothesizes that he and the man he killed could have been friends. The poet sounds no apparent animosity towards the other guy and simply describes him as a “foe”. The choice of words here shows that there are not much negative feelings against the...