Poems and Their Contribution to the Understanding of War in Human Civilization

There are many different aspects of war that poets attempt to convey through their works, whether they be “the devastating effects of war” (Poets.org, 1997), “the fear engendered” (Poets.org, 1997) by war, or even “the blurring of opposing forces” (Poets.org, 1997), but regardless of what aspect of war that the poems themselves focus on, they all serve to contribute to a better understanding of war in human civilization.

“Before the Deployment” discusses the uncertainty of the enlisted man, leaving his home and his girl for the last time before he is deployed, “the citrus ghost of his cologne” (Dubrow, line 14) that he leaves behind, and the goodbyes that are said. It serves to remind the reader that war is not a faceless creature, but an entity made up of individuals who have lives that they are leaving behind for the common good, never knowing if they will return again.

“Range Finding” traces the path of a bullet used to kill a man, regardless of the effects that it has on the flora and insects in its way, through the words of the poet showing the destructive qualities that war has, not just upon those who take part in it, but on the environment as well; “the stricken flower bent double and so hung” (Frost, line 4). Frost strives to show that war does not simply destroy the man, “a single human breast” (line 3) stained with blood but also causes the destruction of things not often perceived.

“War Is Kind,” “Grass,” “The War Works Hard,” “The Death of a Soldier,” and “Futility” all serve to show the destructive nature of war as applied to the death of soldiers, and the effect that their deaths have on those who love them. “War Is Kind” serves to address the pain and sorrow felt by mothers, sweethearts, and children alike upon the notification that their son, lover, or father is dead; “these men were born to drill and die” (Crane, line 8), the reader is told, and Crane mockingly advises them not to weep, for they should have known the price of war. Sandburg drives this point home, providing his point of view from that of the grass itself, whose responsibility is to “cover all” (line 3), and show the futility of war, for after several years, there will be nobodies left, no torn up ground, to mark the passage of the troops, to mark the battle, to mark the places where the men fell.

In spite of all of this “the war continues working, day and night” (Mikhail, line 29), never stopping, never ceasing, always destroying. “Death is expected” (Stevens, line 1), when war takes place, as inevitable “as in a season of autumn” (Stevens, line 8), and ultimately futile, providing only anguish, destruction and heartache wherever it goes, and once a soldier’s life is forfeit, not even the sun shall wake him.

 

 

Works Cited
Crane, Stephen. “War Is Kind [excerpt].” Poets.org. Poets.org, 1997. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. .
Dubrow, Jehanne. “Before the Deployment.” Poets.org. Poets.org, 1997. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. .
Frost, Robert. “Range Finding.” Move Him Into The Sun. Move Him Into The Sun, 2 Feb. 2011. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. .
Mikhail, Dunya. “Excerpt: The War Works Hard” NPR. NPR, 5 July 2007. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. .
Owen, Wilfred. “Futility.” Poets.org. Poets.org, 1997. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. .
Poets.org. “Poems about War.” Poets.org. Poets.org, 1997. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. .
Sandburg, Carl. “Grass.” Poets.org. Poets.org, 1997. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. .
Stevens, Wallace. “The Death of a Soldier.” Move Him Into The Sun. Move Him Into The Sun, 14 Feb. 2011. Web. 05 Mar. 2013. .