Channel Firing

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The poem “Channel Firing”, written by Thomas Hardy, is set during the early 1900’s right before World War I. The poem describes the turmoil and restlessness that war creates. “Channel Firing” is written from the perspective of a corpse that is disturbed by gunnery practice. At first the corpse believes that it is the judgment day, giving a detailed description of the coffins shaking and the fear of the animals. However, god assures the corpses that it is only gunnery practice. God tells them that nothing has changed while they have been dead. War is just as violent as before, if not worse, and people’s hearts are just as cruel. In stanza’s five and six, Hardy gives god a sense of humor:

For if it were they’d have to scour
Hell’s floor for so much threatening…
“Ha, Ha. It will be warmer when
Blow the trumpet (If indeed
I ever do; for you are men,
And rest eternal sorely need) (19-24)
In these stanzas god is saying that it is not judgment day, because if it were it would be much worse because of their actions. God takes it further by saying he might not ever bring the judgment day. The corpse talks as if he can hear and see the other bodies in their coffin. “So down we lay again. I wonder,/Will the world ever saner be,/And many a skeleton shook his head.” Hardy then refers to mid-evil times, again making the claim that things have not changed.

Thomas Hardy does an excellent job of presenting the devastation of war. Hardy uses detailed description from an interesting viewpoint to relate his message. War has always been a part of human society from the beginning of time until present day. “Channel Firing” is a unique poem, because it’s theme is relevant in any time period since the existence of humans. Hardy refers to three time periods in this poem: The past in mid-evil times, the current time in which the poem was written, pre World War I, and the time in which the corpse died. By referring to these time periods, Hardy is making a statement that...
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