The EXAM Centre War is Kind
BY Minnelle Doole
When the syllabus changed in 2015, the poem/song "Where have all the Flowers Gone" was replaced with "War is Kind" by Stephen Crane. "War is Kind" is the first poem of Stephen Crane's second collection of poems; "War is Kind and Other Lines", published in 1899, less than a year before he died. The poem is sometimes referred to by its first line, "Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind."
The poem focuses mainly on war, aftermath and its effects. In this way it echoes the stories and scenes from Crane's Civil War novel, "The Red Badge of Courage". Though Crane had been turned down because of poor health when he volunteered to enlist in the US Navy, he saw his share of war and death as a journalist, covering conflicts in Greece, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and Spain.
In twenty-six lines, the persona of the poem addresses the loved ones of the soldiers who died on the battlefield amid mayhem and chaos. Crane's use of blank verse is well suited for the subject of war because it lacks the harmonious patterns of rhyme and meter.
The poem is composed of five stanzas, and the indented beginning of the second and fourth stanzas characterize a change in setting. While the first, third, and fifth stanzas focus on the survivors of dead soldiers, the indented stanzas graphically depict scenes of the battlefield. The refrain gives a structural unity to the entire poem as it consistently appears before and after each stanza: "Do not weep/War is kind." This chorus of two lines helps to connect the emotional experience with the actual experience of war. The poem's speaker, simultaneously sympathetic with the victims of war and cynical about the purposes of war, implicitly criticizes the image of the romantic hero, showing in graphic scenes the realities of battlefield death and the emotional torment it causes for those left behind.
Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind.
Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky
And the affrighted steed ran on alone,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Hoarse, booming drums of the regiment,
Little souls who thirst for fight,
These men were born to drill and die.
The unexplained glory flies above them,
Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom—
A field where a thousand corpses lie.
Do not weep, babe, for war is kind.
Because your father tumbled in the yellow trenches,
Raged at his breast, gulped and died,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
Swift, blazing flag of the regiment,
Eagle with crest of red and gold,
These men were born to drill and die.
Point for them the virtue of slaughter,
Make plain to them the excellence of killing
And a field where a thousand corpses lie.
Mother whose heart hung humble as a button
On the bright splendid shroud of your son,
Do not weep.
War is kind.
The poem opens with a guy telling a maiden not to weep over her dead lover because war is kind; soon after, the scene changes and we're on a battlefield. The speaker remarks that the soldiers in front of him were born to drill and die; the battle-god is great, he notes.
The scene changes again and the speaker addresses a babe whose father died in a trench somewhere; he tells this little guy not to weep because, war is kind. We again visit the battlefield, where the speaker makes a number of similar remarks about the destiny of his soldiers.
In the poem's final stanza, he addresses a mother, who stares silently at the body of her son, which is covered with a shroud, "Do not weep, war is kind," he tells her.
In "War is Kind" Crane emphasizes the psychological torment that dying soldiers and their loved ones endure instead of focusing on their heroic or patriotic behaviour. He desires to present the world as he sees it rather than the way he wants it to be. Much of Crane's poetry and fiction depict how human beings behave in extreme circumstances, whether that be how the impoverished survive on the streets of New York City, how men in a lifeboat interact when faced with the prospect of drowning, or how soldiers behave while bullets and shrapnel flies around them. His deterministic philosophy, a feature of naturalism, is evident in the graphic ways he represents the soldiers' deaths. They die alone, fearful and full of rage, in a field "where a thousand corpses lie."
The poem is a very good example of irony. Verbal irony plays a major role throughout the poem. The repetition of 'Do not weep, War is kind' is used ironically to negate the idea of the glory of war.
The poet brings out two contradictory situations together. The fabricated splendour and grandeur of war by the war makers are made to face the grim realities or horrendous aspects of war. Thus he criticizes the glorification of war. Note the sarcasm evoked in 'These men were born to drill and die'. What does it criticize?
The poem creates poignancy and pathos for dying soldiers and their weeping loved ones. This illustrates that it is the ordinary masses who suffer in a war. The simile 'humble as a button' emphasizes the horror and pity of war.
The tone of the poet is critical and sarcastic. The theme involves the negation of the glorification of war. The poem surpasses time and place. It carries universality as it deals with a very common situation in the world.
• Which aspects of war are brought out in the poem?
• Note the repetition 'War is kind'. What is the tone of the poem?
• The poet brings out two contradictory situations in the poem: the grandeur of war vs. the horror of war. What is his purpose? How does he criticize the political agenda in a war?
• The last stanza evokes pathos. This final image shows the epitome of grief, as a mother cries over her dead son, the son she raised, and had all her hopes on. What message is brought out through these lines?
(Sources: The Teacher's Guide, Schmoop.com)
Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association President says Bus lanes are good but more needs to be done
Mahinda Rajapaksa :I did my best for the CountrySays Constitution allows him to become Prime Minister
- LG and PC polls next year – PM 3572
- Reactions to Suu Kyi’s speech 3587
- Govt to amend 20A 3580
- Arundika crosses over 3544
- PCoI probing bonds issue Mahendran a ‘foreign citizen’ 3905
- COPE Chief centre of contention in the House 3554
- Chairman NATA says: Increase tobacco taxes in line with income 3556
- Marking Anagarika Dharmapala’s 153rd B’day 3536
- Treasury Bonds Probe Examination of Palisena’s evidence ends 3561
- UNHCR says 30 Rohingya in SL No restrictions on Myanmar Visa – Immigration Dept 3560
- No official missive as yet 3566
- Court restricts Pindapatha to outer limits of K’goda town 3741
- If Disappearances Act is ratified in Parliament Eliya will take to the streets with the people 3546
- Suspect dies in Police custody 3537
- US GSP not claimed 3552
- Move to increase High Court Judges 3536
- 5th South Asia-China Friendship Forum 3549
- Toxicity in veggies and rice produced in A’pura 3538
- JO challenges Govt...Respect SC ruling, and have PC elections as planned 3535
- Ahangama gets new market complex 3527
- Chemistry paper leak Tutor & bro allowed bail 3526
- Sam meets heads of Colombo Port’s major client 3530
- Keppapilavu land owners to appeal to top brass 3532
- Why I Won’t Vote Unless Things Change 3583
- Transforming the United Nations:Countering the US Budget-Cut Threats 3526
- Anti-SAITM forces and the rule of law 3053
- The March of Folly Promoting Amity, 15 years late 2820
- These 10 probiotic rich foods are even better than Yoghurt 2744
- OMP: Accountability of a State 2655
- 153rd Birth Anniversary of Anagarika Dharmapala Sinhala Buddhist revivalist par excellence 2640
- It’ll be close - Hamilton warns of Ferrari F1 fight back 3348
- Neymar-Cavani penalty spat a ‘war of egos’ 3350
- British cyclist smashes record 3343
- Tyson Fury urges UK Anti-Doping to reach a decision 3346
- Bangladesh’s Rubel denied entry 3353
- Banned Rooney gets lift to training 3344
- An unforgettable week in Lahore 3343
- Rossi back on bike 3337
- Women’s Asia Rugby Sevens Series 2017 Hong Kong game important 3350
- Nuwara Eliya Junior Open Golf Championship Dhuvarshan takes inaugural boys title Tanya Balasuriya carries girls title 3343
- Big Ivan – Russia’s Bang! 2302
- Sri Lanka is a stable country now 2786
- Heading Hybrid Renewable Energy Lights Up Eluvaithivu Island 2815
- ‘Capacity To Pay’, ‘Ability To Pay’ Govt’s New Rates Question Tax Principles 3632
- Salawa inferno Victims still wait for compensation 3522
- We are making plans to topple the Government 3456
- We will not support the 20th Amendment – Suresh Premachandran 3089
- Lanka Private Bus Owners’ Association President says Bus lanes are good but more needs to be done 2896
- SF’s vitriolic attack on Bhikkhus prompts Ven. Gunawansa’s foray into politics 4016
- Mahinda Rajapaksa:I did my best for the CountrySays Constitution allows him to become Prime Minister 4311
- Crushed by debt and online rivals, Toys ‘R’ Us Seeks Bankruptcy 2647
- ABAF 2017 holds ‘Building a Great Start-up’ preview 2638
- Commercial Bank announces special rentals during 3-month ‘Leasing Vaaré’ 2643
- CIMA President David Stanford in town 2632
- Informal sector continues to be economically significant 2632
- OPPO launches Speedy Operation A71 in SL 2632
- Golden ratio behind data driven businesses 2634
- Office Spaces in Sri Lanka: Things to Know 2633
- TBWA the only SL agency awarded at AD STARS 2630
- ICT legal pioneer Jayantha Fernando honoured 2635
- Executing an Executive order 2717
- What are The Best Laxative Foods? 2527
- YOU CAN’T JUDGE A BOOK BY ITS COVER 3575
- NASA's spacecraft makes death plunge into Saturn 2463
- Latest addition to the iphone family 2465
- best workout songs 1802
- BOUNCE BACK: AN OPEN MIC 1930
- Cosplayer fame 2184
- Astrological clue to the nature of your progeny 2393
- Vasu Defects that Affect Business Places 2383
- Venus the planet of love 2387
- Egypt before Pharaohs: When Gods ruled the Earth 2366
- Omens connected with muscle twitching 2356
- Body of the Text 3056
- Academic approaches to peace building and reconciliation 3070
- Insights into the life of remarkable missionary 3100
- Theatre Critics 3033
- Jaffna International Cinema Festival 2017 (JaffnaICF 2017) 3051
- Grammar through Literature and A Thousand Voiced Choir 3034
- Healing the wounded hearts 3037
- Labour power discourse in cinema 3317
- Animals in thirst 2703
- Enhancing life to the very end 2730
- Hearts break in silence 2711
- Awards for alumni at ‘the best school of all’ 2697
- Blue sky in warm champagne 2687
- A will of steel 2684
- Neural engines: the future of AI 2376
- CLOSING SOME WINDOWS 2372
- Celebrating 23 years 2377
- Dahl’s Twisted, Overlooked Stories for Adults 2360
- Powerful voices and musical talent 2357
- The business of fandom 2371