The Battle By Louis Simpson

“They halted and they dug.  They sank like moles

Into the clammy earth between the trees.

And soon the sentries, standing in their holes,

felt the first snow.  Their feet began to freeze”

This excerpt from the poem The Battle uses quite a bit of imagery.  The authors use of imagery helps the reader to better visualize how the battlefield looked.  The section of the poem that states “They sank like moles into the clammy earth between the trees” depicts a picture of how the soldiers dug into the ground to create a sort of barrier to protect themselves from the their enemies fire.  I think it is also extremely interesting how the author refers to the soldiers as moles.  The referral of the soldiers as moles shows the reader how the soldiers are acting like animals digging into the ground for protection and waiting to pounce on their prey.  Later on in the poem the author says that “the corpses stiffened in their scarlet hoods” the scarlet hoods resembles the blood of the soldier forming a hood around the head of the soldier.


Two Armies By Stephen Spender

“Deep in the winter plain, two armies

Dig their machinery, to destroy each other.

Men freeze and hunger.  No one is given leave

On either side, except the dead and wounded.

These have their leave; while new battalions wait

On time at last to bring them violent peace”

The poem Two Armies by Stephen Spendor is quite different from other poems we have read.  Whereas most of the poems we have read so far in class have all been about just one side of the battle and not both, this poem talks about both armies that are at a stand still and are both experiencing the same feelings.  The excerpt I have chosen from the poem expresses how both sides are stuck in their trenches and the war is going absolutely nowhere whatsoever.  The author talks about how the only people that are getting out of this standstill are the people that have lost their lives in the battle.  There are also quite a few people that are losing their lives because of the cold.  I find this sad due to the fact that the soldiers go to protect their country but they are actually dying because of the cold, which is more degrading.

Prize for Good Conduct By: Kenneth Allott p.253

“The worn-out voice of the clock breaks on the hour:

The State requires

My wedding ring and my apostle spoons,

My sons.”

The war poem Prize for Good Conduct is an extremely strongly written poem.  The author, Kenneth Allott’s writing shows that he is extremely upset about how the war is being fought and how people are being treated.  The excerpt from the poem is stating that the government is taking all of the valuable property from the citizens to pay for the war.  They government is also taking the children of women to fight in the war.  All of these factors greatly upset Allott.  The poem goes on to talk about how priests and even 200 hundred widows were put to work manufacturing wooden legs and glass eyes.  The reader assumes that the widowed women lost their husbands in the war, which makes you feel bad for them.  The fact that they are still morning over the loss of their loved ones and are put to work just makes you feel complete disgust for the country that is doing this to their people.


Unseen Fire By R. N. Currey

“This is a damned inhuman sort of war.

I have been fighting in a dressing-gown

Most of the night; I cannot see the guns,

The sweating gun-attachments or the planes;”

The poem Unseen Fire by R. N. Currey is about how the character of the poem believes that they are fighting inhumanly.  The person in the poem is crunching numbers and is telling his comrades when they need to fire their guns.  R. N. Currey states that “I cannot see the guns, the sweating gun-attachments or the planes;” this shows the reader how the character in the poem isn’t even anywhere close to the any of the actual battles.  His comrades are firing guns up into the sky to shoot down enemy aircraft.   The poem is saying the way they are fighting is inhuman due to the fact that the people the are shooting at are 5 miles up in the air and are no where close to the actual soldiers and don’t expect the artillery fire to come so abruptly.  Later on in the poem Currey talks about how they give ghosts the command to fire the artillery.  They refer to the person as a ghost since they don’t even see him and due to the fact that once they fire the artillery the people they fire at become ghosts when they die.

Facing It By: Yusef Komunyakaa

Facing It

My black face fades,
hiding inside the black granite.
I said I wouldn’t,
dammit: No tears.
I’m stone. I’m flesh.
My clouded reflection eyes me
like a bird of prey, the profile of night
slanted against morning. I turn
this way – the stone lets me go.
I turn that way – I’m inside
the Vietnam Veterans Memorial
again, depending on the light
to make a difference.
I go down the 58,022 names,
half-expecting to find
my own in letters like smoke.
I touch the name Andrew Johnson;
I see the booby trap’s white flash.
Names shimmer on a woman’s blouse
but when she walks away
the names stay on the wall.
Brushstrokes flash, a red bird’s
wings cutting across my stare.
The sky. A plane in the sky.
A white vet’s image floats
closer to me, then his pale eyes
look through mine. I’m a window.
He’s lost his right arm
inside the stone. In the black mirror
a woman’s trying to erase names:
No, she’s brushing a boy’s hair.

The Poem Facing It by Yusef Komunyakaa is a very emotional poem.  This poem makes you think about just how devastating war can be to a soldier who fought in it.  This poem is about a man who is at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and finds a friends name who had died in the war.  When the man finds the name of his close friend he starts having flashbacks of what happened during the war.  Yusef states “I touch the name Andrew Johnson;  I see the booby trap’s white flash.”  This short but very powerful excerpt from the poem shows  how devastating it is to lose a close friend in a war.  During his flashback he also was still very aware of his surroundings. Yusef says “A white vet’s image floats closer to me, then his pale eyes look through mine. I’m a window.  He’s lost his right arm inside the stone.” This shows you how during his flashback he is still aware of what is going on around him.  The way he says the vet lost his arm in the stone is saying that his arm is part of the list of casualties that were left with all of the names on the stone.  It also shows you how a traumatic event like this will forever cause this soldier to have flashbacks of bad memories of war.

Gifts for my Family By Viet Dzung

I’m sending my husband a few packs of special cigarettes.
He will smoke them slowly as his life is burning away like the ashes.
I am sending a few sewing needles to my mother.
She will sew a shirt as if she were sewing through my heart.
I am sending a few yards of fabric to my sister
I don’t know if she will make a wedding gown or a dress for a funeral
I am sending to my brother a lot of candy
He will eat so many sweets, because his life is so bitter
I am sending my father a plain white shirt
He will wear it only once, when he goes to his execution.
I am sending to Vietnam an ocean of tears
I am sending to Vietnam a dream of a peaceful day
I am sending to my husband a fountatain pen.
He will paint his life as a dream drawn between the thin lines.
I am sending to my mother a few boxes of tea.
She will pour me some tea as her eyes run out of tears.
I am sending my sister a few matches
She will burn her life in an empty, cold, and misty place.
I am sending to my brother a lovely ring
He will sell it to find a way to escape his life.
I am sending my father a few bottles of sleeping pills
He will use them to lull himself to sleep in the jail cell where he is imprisoned for life.
I am sending to Vietnam a caring song
I am sending to Vietnam my dreams of a peaceful sleep.

The poem Gifts for my Family by Viet Dzung isn’t like any poems we have read thus far in class.  This poem really toys with your emotions.  It makes you think about how life is when your country is at war.  The author starts off talking about how she is sending one of her family members something nice which uplifts you.  The next line would then be extremely dark and depressing.  For instance Viet says “I’m sending my husband a few packs of special cigarettes.  He will smoke them slowly as his life is burning away like the ashes.”  The second line makes you feel bad for her husband and makes the reader have a sort of feeling of depression come over them.  This is different from other poems we have read because this poem makes the readers emotions go up and down like a roller coaster whereas the other poems we have read are either uplifting or depressing throughout the whole piece