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Arms and the Boy Analysis



Author: Poetry of Wilfred Owen Type: Poetry Views: 1089

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1 Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade

2 How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;

3 Blue with all malice, like a madman's flash;

4 And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh.



5 Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-heads

6 Which long to muzzle in the hearts of lads.

7 Or give him cartridges of fine zinc teeth,

8 Sharp with the sharpness of grief and death.



9 For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple.

10 There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;

11 And God will grow no talons at his heels,

12 Nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.





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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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Wilfred Owens was a great man! If he was alive today. i would vote him to be president of NAMBLA

| Posted on 2010-03-29 | by a guest


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i googled madman's flash and it doesn't say anything about the mentally unfit men

| Posted on 2010-03-15 | by a guest


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Some corrections, above all 'nuzzle' for 'muzzle';
.
.
Arms and the Boy
.
Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade
How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;
Blue with all malice, like a madman's flash;
And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh.
.
Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-leads,
Which long to nuzzle in the hearts of lads,
Or give him cartridges whose fine zinc teeth
Are sharp with sharpness of grief and death.
.
For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple.
There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;
And God will grow no talons at his heels,
Nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.
.
.
.
Owen sees the introduction of the young man to the weapons of war as a process of perversion; perverting his nature and making him into a killer. The talons and antlers are those of a demon, a very suitable soldier to serve the aspirations of the nations entangled in the Great War. Owen's point is that making an entire generation of young men into killers is not God's desire. Though there were many volunteers for the army, none of them could have understood what they were volunteering for, as nothing of the kind had been seen previously. Later consciption came into effect. In either case, if ever there was a war that dehumanised ordinary men and made them strangers to their own natures, 1914-18 was it.
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A "madman's flash" was a piece of blue cloth attached to the uniform of a soldier being treated for stress induced mental illness, serving to warn those he met that he might behave in an erratic manner.
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The poem is rich with particularly harsh assonance and alliteration, but more surprisingly we find the last verse rhyming off stress. Doing so is not really rhyme at all. One cannot suppose Owen failed to notice. Instead he has deliberately used this for effect. The preceding syllable becomes over-emphasised and the 'rhyming' final syllable becomes even quieter. The effect (as I see it) is delicacy, even tenderness. Used appropriately this is a fine piece of poetic invention. Over using this effect would be a mistake; Owen wisely keeps it for the final verse. I can't remember seeing this idea used elsewhere, though I've used it myself in imitation of the effect Owen creates in this poem.
~ Badger,

| Posted on 2010-01-28 | by a guest


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I think that Wilfred Owen was a very randy little sod -as am I. He was a sexy man. Yes.

| Posted on 2009-11-23 | by a guest


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the guy above me thanks that helped alot yer im in year Ten and i needed that

| Posted on 2009-10-12 | by a guest


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The tone of this poem changes; at the beginning the boy is dominant: "let the boy try along this bayonet-blade". However this is reversed in the last stanza with animals seemingly stronger as they have "claws", "talons" and "antlers", humans are not intended for war as nature and God hasnt given them weapons naturally. Therefore God is not supportive of the wars of men: "and God will not grow talons". The poem is therefore portraying war as a perversion of the natural order.
Yes I'm doing year 12 English Lit, like everyone else that uses this site!

| Posted on 2009-02-20 | by a guest




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