Reality of battles: (nature)
The land where battles took place is described as being damaged along with the soldiers. The farmers “tend the land back into itself” as though caring for it. Suggests its being restored to its natural purpose. ii.
The earth is personified as patient and watchful. It “stands sentinel” as if protecting the memory of the soldiers, by constantly reveling more remains “reaching back into itself for reminders”. iii.
The soldiers remains as described using images from nature to emphasize their fragile state e.g. “broken birds egg of a skull” iv.
The natural metaphor of “nesting machine gun” to describe the weapons used to kill the soldiers suggests that nature was abused by the man-made war.
The references to death are surrounded by peaceful and reflective images. The death happened many years earlier and the remains of the soldiers who died are being found by farmers who are caring for the land. ii.
The descriptions of the way the bones are found help us imagine the horror of the deaths. The poem refers to “their jaws, those that have them” and “their absent tongues” – reminds us their bodies have been destroyed by decay and gunfire.
Assonance and alliteration create specific sounds throughout the poem. “a chit of bone, the china plate of a shoulder blade” sounds like the plough striking the soldiers skeletons. ii.
The alliteration in the poem gives some phrases a more determined feeling. The earth “stands sentinel” and “is like a wound working a foreign body to the surface of the skin” iii.
Words with double meanings intensify the thoughtful tone of the poem. The “relic of a finger” associates the soldiers with saintliness, and the “foreign body” could mean foreign soldier.
Beginnings of poems (establish a theme):
Poem begins with the idea that something has already happened. “afterward” refers to the war. ii.
The poet uses a pronoun “them” to make the reader wonder who this refers to....
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