An Poem Analysis of “Hearing That His Friend Was Coming Back from the War” by Wang Chien

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In this poem, the poet describes a contemporary war which was more intense than those in the old days and the hopelessness for soldiers to come back from the war. When the speaker got the news that his friend, who saw service in that war, was coming back, he was then in an emotional conflict between the eagerness to see his friend returning from the war and the worry about if his friend was still alive or not because he understood the cruelty of the war.

A possible theme of this poem is the senselessness of the war and the hopelessness for soldiers to escape from that intense war. The purpose of the poem is to convey the speaker’s contradictory emotions on the fate of his friend on the battlefield.

This poem consists of one stanza of eighteen lines. There is a non-structural pattern in the arrangement of the lines. The poet first describes a war which is crueler than the previous (in the first four lines), followed by descriptions of the attributes of his friend (from the fifth line to the eighth line), and then his reactions to news that his friend was coming back from the war (from the ninth line to the end).

In the first four lines, only a third person plural pronoun ‘they’ is found within this few lines. This feature suggests that, perhaps, the speaker was not involved in the war. He acted as an outsider to describe the war. Word choices including 'fight', 'soldiers', 'die' and 'battlefield', have a reference to war. Then, from the fifth line to the eighth line, it begins to have the use of first person singular pronouns. A use of 'I' and 'you', which refer to the speaker and his friend respectively, is found in the fifth line. It shows the involvement of the speaker and his friend in the events beginning from the fifth line. Besides, more modifiers are used there to describe the speaker's friend. Examples are 'weak', 'indolent', 'hopelessly', 'young'. They all show the inexperience and weakness of his friend on the battlefield. From the ninth...
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