Death's Empowerment Over Life Analysis Of Louis Simpson's Poem, Carentan O Carentan

1272 words - 5 pages

Death is inevitable. It can come as unexpected as an ominous cloud amid a sunny day, or as sly as a cunning wolf stalking its midnight prey. Everyone experiences the power of death. It is the merciless force that takes life from life, and it's the one thing many of us fear. During time of war, death can't be overcome or avoided. For these reasons, it's evident that death is more powerful than life itself. In "Carentan O Carentan", by Louis Simpson, the theme of death overpowering life is evident through the use of imagery, tone and symbols.The imagery in this poem exhibits how life is overshadowed by darkness. The first stanza gives the audience a harmonious impression. Simpson's first verse states: "Trees in the old days used to stand/And shape a shady lane/Where lovers wandered hand in hand/Who came from Carentan". This stanza characterizes life through two people enjoying a quiet afternoon walk through the park. The image of the couple is soothing, and it portrays a powerful celebration of life. This passage clearly represents life before war due to the fact that often times the smallest and menial things in life are taken for granted. In times of war, what is most desired is for life to go about its normal course and to regain the simplicities of life. This image of love and merriment, however, is distorted by the second stanza where two soldiers march down the same path. Consider the words in this stanza: "Walking at combat-interval/Such trees we never knew". It is evident that the same trees where the lovers once walked are still there, but now they are obliterated from existence. The soldiers walking down this path are obliged to put aside all memories of the simple pleasures that war has caused them to leave behind. The trees, in this case, are no longer a place for a romantic rendezvous, rather they are seen for what they are-just trees. The author is illustrating the strength that war and death have over life. It has the power to warp one's mind and make them overlook the gifts of nature. In the third stanza, the author states, "The ground was soft and bright with dew/Far away the guns did sound/But here the sky was blue". A sunny, picturesque day is quickly abolished by the sound of gun shots and smoke from a nearby battle. Again, the author illustrates how peacefulness is shattered and quickly forgotten when and where death lingers. Death dominates the still and beautiful scenery described in this passage. It is as though the author is conveying that the impact of war is more powerful than every element of life.The speaker's tone enhances the theme of death. Throughout the poem, he expresses a melancholy and distressed tone. In his sentence, "Call it death or cowardice/Don't count again on me", Simpson is portraying his view about the war. He is fearful of death, and is reluctant to be a part of the war. This fear of death causes Simpson to overlook what he is truly fighting for-life and victory. He is blinded by fear, and cannot see...

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