Louis Simpson’s “The Battle” and Stephen Crane’s “War Is Kind” Poems
Wars have taken many lives of people and have inspired poets to write about the battlefields. Louis Simpson’s “The Battle” and Stephen Crane’s “War is Kind” describes how the war has affected people’s lives. “War is Kind” ironically describes the violent actions and indifference towards human resources. Likewise, “The Battle” highlights the unimportance of human lives to the leaders, as well as massacres that commonly happen during fights. These two poems have both similarities and differences. It will be argued that both poems have repetitions that create the rhythm and specific sounds for emphasizing certain aspects of the war. Nonetheless, particular details of the war are highlighted by metaphors and synecdoche in “The Battle” and metonymy in “War is Kind.”
Both poets used repetition to emphasize the feeling and create the rhythm. In “The Battle”, repetition of the word “they” was used to distance the reader from the soldiers (Simpson, line 5). The author wanted to create a feeling that these men are anonymous soldiers whose primary purpose is to complete assigned tasks. “War is Kind”, in turn, has the line “These men were born to drill and die” line, as well as “And a field where a thousand corpses lie” to create rhythm (Crane, lines 8-11). This repetition makes the poem sound as if it is a song. Moreover, by repeating these lines, the author created an atmosphere of war, emphasizing that soilers have no other option but to serve and die. Thus, repetition was utilized in both poems, which allowed poets to create rhythm and highlight essential ideas of the poem.
Moreover, poets used the way words sound to highlight the theme of war further. In “The Battle”, onomatopeic was used to mimic the sound of the war. This word is “thudded,” which imitates the heavy sound of arms fire (Simpson, line 3). In the line “Their feet began to freeze,” the letter “F” was commonly used because of the necessary friction to pronounce this letter (Simpson, line 8). This technique was utilized to create the feeling of agony because of the way this letter is pronounced. Moreover, the assonance of “ee” in a word freeze makes the line more difficult to read (Simpson, line 8). The poet used “ee” to illustrate the pain of war to readers. Furthermore, the word “crack” in the line “At dawn, the first shell landed with a crack” creates the feeling and immediate sound of the massacre (Simpson, line 9). In “War is Kind”, the word “hoarse” imitated the sound of drums (Crane, line 6). Thus, both authors effectively used the pronunciation of words to create the atmosphere of war by emulating familiar sounds that occur in battle.
Metaphors and Synecdoche in “The Battle”
Furthermore, metaphors and synecdoche were effectively used to highlight violent aspects of the war in “The Battle”. Metaphors helped to compare things that are not commonly compared. For instance, the poet compares “scarlet hoods” with blood because of the color (Simpson, line 12). The color of the fresh blood is scarlet because it has a high amount of oxygen in it. Consequently, “scarlet hoods” represent the new blood of soldiers that were recently killed. As a result, a feeling of desperation because of the loss of lives was created. Moreover, “The Battle” uses the technique of synecdoche to highlight that helmet, rifle, pack, and overcoat that allow the soldier to fulfill his tasks are more important than the person himself (Simpson, line 1). Synecdoche was utilized by the author to emphasize further the fact that each soldier is not valued. Thus, both metaphor and synecdoche were used to express the harsh realities of the war.
Metonymy in “War is Kind”
The “War is Kind” poem, in turn, used metonyms to create the atmosphere of war. While describing the grieving mother, the author compared the mother’s heart with a “button” (Crane, line 23). The loss of a son is challenging to comprehend for a mother. Consequently, it is hard to believe that their son is lying in the coffin. As a result, the mothers of soldiers cannot walk away from the coffin easily. Similar to how the button is attached to the shroud, the mother’s heart is attached to her son lying in the coffin. Metonymy was used for describing the grief of mothers who loses their sons in the war.
To sum up, both poets utilized repetition and sound techniques for creating the rhythm and atmosphere of the war. Repetition created the rhythm in “The Battle” and made “War is Kind’s” structure similar to a song’s structure. Moreover, the pronunciation of words created specific sounds of war in both poems. In “The Battle,” sounds of arms, fire, and massacre were imitated. Moreover, the sound of certain words effectively created the feeling of discomfort and hardship. “War is Kind” imitated the sound of the drums that are played in the war. As a result, the two poems effectively describe the battlefield to the reader when it comes to differences, “The Battle” incorporated metaphors and synecdoche to further define the violence of the battlefield. “War is Kind” utilized metonyms to describe the grief of soldiers’ mothers. By using these techniques, the authors effectively described various aspects of the war.