‘Conquerors’ written in 1933 by Henry Treece is a poem about the horrors of the aftermath of war in the point of view of a victorious soldier. Throughout the text the persona is a soldier as there is a sense a teamwork shown by the author’s use of “we” or “not one amongst us” eliminating one’s individuality. Also the last sentence implies that they are away from home as they are thinking about it rather than looking at it. By saying “No one told us victory was like this” implies that they were victorious. This was probably written to remind people of the atrocities that come with war, as in 1933 Hitler came to “power” and production of weapons increased. The paradox is that although the soldiers won, they brought nothing but death and misery. Meanwhile, victory usually brings a sense of accomplishment and happiness. The title already suggests that the poem is about the aftermath of a war in the view of those who won. The title fits quite well as the poem describes their remorse by depicting a gloomy environment. The tone is melancholic and the structure is free verse. This commentary will be broken up into the Literal/Figurative meanings followed by the structure of the poem and its significance.
The Literal meaning is that victory in the context of war is not victorious as the soldiers regret their unmoral actions. This is shown by:
“No one had told us victory was like this
Not one amongst us would have eaten bread
Before he’d filled the mouth of the grey child”
This gives a remorseful tone and sense of guilt. The pity for this dead child humanises the soldiers who feel a need to protect not to attack helpless people. This reflection could be seen as emphasis on their morality (noble) as they would have given anything to save the child. However there is an ambiguity as this could also mean that none of the soldiers would have done anything. Again this proves that they are soldiers as the blankly obey to their superiors “No one