Sunday, September 30, 2012

Poets and Poems of World War II

World War II was the travesty that brought disastrous damage not only to the worldwide economy but also to the standard of living for people who suffered from the war. Although the United States was trying to stay out of the war at the beginning, the attack at Pearl Harbor forced the states to join in 1941. Even if it was for the defense and honor of America, participating in WWII was not a good decision because most sources state that approximately 405,399 Americans died in total at a rate of about 416 people per day. Because of the horrors of the war, such as the deaths of Americans and the destruction of fortunes, many poets started to write anti-war-themed poems in order to awaken Americans to recognize the damage WWII imparted.
During that time, Randall Jarrell, a famous American poet, enlisted in the Army Air Corps, giving him a deep personal experience of how cruel war is. Jarrell was a talented poet who captured the sounds and images of World War II in his work. In the poem Frost, the uproar of the war is colored with “fog over the base” and “the bombers banging like lost trucks down the levels of the ice”. Jarrell goes on to speak about death, the most poignant aspect of the war. Some lost their friends, others their children, and still others their lovers. Jarrell asks, “Can’t you hear me?”, a seemingly simple question. But in the context of war, it takes on a new meaning: it means life or death on the battlefield. Due to his experience in the army, Randall Jarrell developed his poems through his elegant language, which left a deeper meaning behind.

Peter S. Griffin, a paratrooper with an outstanding combat record, was another one of the best-known poets from World War II. His famous poem called "The Thousand Yard Stare" is about the terrible situations he paid witness to during World War II.   In this poem, Griffin expresses his thoughts about the awfulness that people, especially soldiers, suffered during the war. For example, Griffin writes that "the way their lives were ended, leaves mankind most offended…. horrors endured together, tossed in pits, interred forever…!" From these few lines, I can feel the horrible feelings that Griffin tries to convey. Lives are invaluable; however, because the war had no benefits, their lives are cruelly ended, dying for nothing. Many could not even be properly commemorated after their sacrifice, as their bodies were lost in Europe and the Pacific. With the picturesque descriptions, Griffin impressively conveyed the cruelty of the WWII to the readers. 

Poets like Griffin and Jarrell really captured the fundamental truths of what WWII was: the life, death, sacrifice, and meaninglessness of war.

No comments:

Post a Comment