War is Kind by Stephen Crane
War is Kind by Stephen Crane
It is a lengthy poem authored by Stephen Crane. It revolves about the social encumbrances that arise because of war. He talks about family separation and loss of a loved one. He somewhat uses a paradoxical theme as he continues alluding to war being kind after highlighting the calamities. The poem itself is a mixture of various stylistic devices and a unique form of storytelling (McBryde et al., 25).
Part one-How is War Portrayed
The way the poem’s speaker has portrayed war makes it so far from desirable. He has cited countless death tropes throughout the length of the poem. The first one can be found just at the beginning of the poem. The speaker is addressing a maiden, the maiden seems to have had a lover who was sent to war. This is openly revealed in the second line, which the speaker says, “Because your lover catapulted his hands into the sky wild hands toward the sky and the affrighted horse galloped on alone”; the line depicts a scene on the battleground. The maiden’s lover might have been fighting the battle on a horse. The phrase “Because your lover threw his hands into the sky” suggests that he might have been shot or stabbed, raising his hand in the air while falling from his horse. This, in turn, makes the horse anxious thereby making it run away alone (McBryde et al., 25).
He concludes by telling the maiden not to worry because war is kind. The maiden has just lost her lover and hence cannot see the kindness in war. Adding to her misery is the fact that her lover suffered a gruesome death. The speaker is somewhat employing a paradoxical theme toward the entire course of the poem as he highlights some tragic happenings attributed to war but later on concludes by telling the tragedy bearers not to worry because war is kind (McBryde et al., 25).
Another set of lines, which shed some light to the depiction of war in this poem, is the twelfth to sixteenth lines. The speaker addresses another female whose father might also have been deployed to fight in the war; however, true to the theme of tragedy that is depicted throughout this poem, he ends up meeting his demise (McBryde et al., 25). The speaker goes on to elaborate how this came about using the lines “Because your father tripped into the ditches,Raged at his chest, gasped and succumbed,” This is a rather graphical description of someone’s death. The speaker goes on to conclude with his predominant ending, “Do not cry for war is merciful.” Throughout the entire scope of the poem, war has been portrayed as the cause of pain and separation between loved ones.
Part 2- Rupert Brooke’s the Soldier Analysis
Contrary to the depiction of war by Stephen Crane, Rupert main theme in his poem is the patriotism that is a part of war. The speaker spends a large portion of the poem talking about how ready he is to serve and die for his home country that is England (McBryde et al., 25). He sees that death is the only way to repay his homeland for all the good it has done for him; hence, he would readily die in war for its cause.
In the first lines of the poem, “If my death should ensue, have these thoughts of me, that there’s an area in a foreign land that will remain forever England.” The line goes on to depict that the spot in which the speaker (Who is presumably a soldier) dies on will become England. This can be translated to mean that whichever spot his English blood, flesh or bones will touch, it will automatically become English land. According to McBryde et al., (25), this shows how much he has valued the English land that he has already considered part of himself, a sign of absolute patriotism. The above also shows that Rupert has used the style of symbolism in his poem. Symbolism is the act of using an object or a word to represent an abstract idea (McBryde et al., 25). To put this into concept, he has employed the body of the speaker to represent the land of England. Symbolism contributes to the imagery aspect of the poem as one can actually relate to the significant importance the speaker’s homeland is to him.
The style of anthropomorphism is also evident in the poem. Anthropomorphism is defined as the stylistic device attributed to giving non-animate or inanimate objects human characteristics (McBryde et al., 25). Rupert has well used this device in the following lines of his poem. “Body of England’s, breathing English scents, washed by the streams, shined upon by sun rays of home”. England is said to have a body and breathes fresh air, which are all characteristics of animate objects. Therefore, the act of characterizing inanimate objects with human-like characteristics is what constitutes anthropomorphism. It is also used with the same intent of inducing imagery (McBryde et al., 25). The poet has also used some forms of alliteration like consonance to help achieve rhythm. This can be found in the line, “And think this feeling al,” There is a repetition of the sound |th|, which help in giving the poem some effect of musicality.
Part 3-Comparison with Stephen Crane’s “War is Kind”
The two poems have conflicting depictions of war. Stephen Cranes’ depiction, as glossed over above, associates war with tragedy, separation, and loss of a loved one. The speaker addresses two women who have lost loved ones due to war, that is, a husband and a father respectively (McBryde et al., 25). Rupert Brooke’s depiction, however, sees war as a vessel of redemption. The speaker in the poem is willing to die as long as it is in service of his home country that is England. He sees war as the chance of displaying patriotism and commitment towards one’s beloved country.
The two depictions are in great contradiction of each other. While one is patriotic and selfless, another is tragic and undesirable. The poets have employed the themes based on their attitudes towards war. This also sheds some light to the predominant themes of the poem, one being tragic and another being patriotic. Both of the poems have used the style of narration, where the speaker engages in a monolog conversation with other characters within the poem itself or with the audience (McBryde et al., 25). The poem by Stephen Crane has used the style of contradiction or paradox in a significant portion of his poem hence that can be safely presumed as the predominant style. Rupert however, has employed the use of symbolism as the predominant style
McBryde, J. M., et al. “English Literature.” Modern Language Notes, vol. 21, no. 1, 1906, p. 25, doi:10.2307/2917683.