Stanza 1: Dark clouds are smouldering into red While down the craters morning burns. The dying soldier shifts his head To watch the glory that returns; He lifts his fingers toward the skies
Stanza 1 continued: Where holy brightness breaks in flame; Radiance reflected in his eyes, And on his lips a whispered name.
Stanza 2: You'd think, to hear some people talk, That lads go West with sobs and curses, And sullen faces white as chalk, Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.
Stanza 2 continued: But they've been taught the way to do it Like Christian soldiers; not with haste And shuddering groans; but passing through it With due regard for decent taste.
It'sa bitter poem.The first stanza presents a soldier dying on the battlefield.His death has a futility and grandeur.The day comes and he remembers someone he loves and sees the day starting all over.
the day starting all over again--"glory that returns"--although it will do him no good except to make him see what he is losing.
The second stanza is a contrast and presents two incorrect versions of what it means to be a soldier in World War I. The "people who talk" difficulty with which the soldiers go to war.
The training that these soldiers get is also out of touch with the actuality of war;it reflects the mores of England: reserved,quiet,seemly,not the reality of the experience (haste and shuddering).
This is just as wrong as the thoughts of those who misunderstand the mind of the soldiers in the first half of this stanza.
The poet reflects on the death of one soldier, who in his final moments gazes at the rising sun, the last sunrise he will ever see. The beauty of this event moves him to whisper a name.
Perhaps it is a prayer to his God, or possibly a farewell to a loved one, hopefully also watching a sunrise. This lad dies with grace,hope and even has the radiance of a new day reflected in his eyes.
The poet notes this death will not be honoured with a fancy funeral, nor will the soldier make a scene as he dies...he is a soldier and this is part of his lot.
This lad dies quietly and does not engage in indecent rage at his fate. He should be angered at the waste of life happening all round him but he believes he is going to a better place.
He passes decently from an indecent world. The war has taught him....how to die!
References : http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1914warpoets.html
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