The Art of Poetry

The Art of Poetry

The Art of Poetry: How does Owen relate the experience of being gassed?  How does he interrupt for the reader of his poem, the death of a soldier who dies as a result of being gassed? 

Poetry Response #6
Poetry & War
Poetry can often lend us important insights into situations that we as readers will
hopefully never experience, such as war. Please read all the poems, and using the questions
below, compare any 2 of the poems listed here. Also, please answer the Additional Questions for
Discussion at the end of this to help us consider some of the bigger ideas poems about war raise
for readers.
Handout
“Dreamers”-Sassoon
“The Naming of Parts”-Reed
“Welcome to Hiroshima”-Salter
“Here, Bullet”-Turner (listed below)
Textbook
“Dulce et Decorum Est”-Owen, p.133
“The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner”-Jarrell, p.159
“Facing It”-Komunyakaa, p.238
Here, Bullet
If a body is what you want,
then here is bone and gristle and flesh.
Here is the clavicle-snapped wish,
the aorta’s opened valves, the leap
thought makes at the synaptic gap.
Here is the adrenaline rush you crave,
that inexorable flight, that insane puncture
into heat and blood. And I dare you to finish
what you’ve started. Because here, Bullet,
here is where I complete the word you bring
hissing through the air, here is where I moan
the barrel’s cold esophagus, triggering
my tongue’s explosives for the rifling I have
inside of me, each twist of the round
spun deeper, because here, Bullet,
here is where the world ends, every time.
© 2005, Brian Turner
From: Here, Bullet
Publisher: Alice James Books, Farmington, ME, 2005

Additional Questions for Discussion
How does Owen relate the experience of being gassed?  How does he interrupt for the reader of
his poem, the death of a soldier who dies as a result of being gassed?  How do Owen’s words
speak profoundly to the reality of war?
 What feeling does Owen leave you with regarding the “sweetness and honor” of die for one’s
country? How does “Dulce et Decorum Est” differ from Sassoon’s “Dreamers”?
The poem “Facing It” describes a visit to the Vietnam War Memorial, but what is the “it” that
Komunyakaa asks himself and us to face? When he writes at the poem’s beginning, "black face
fades,/hiding inside the black granite," what is he hiding from?
In what ways do the poem’s line breaks suggest the speaker’s complicated and conflicting
emotions in the poem? How does the poem’s form mirror the speaker’s experience of looking at
the Wall?
How and where does the reflection confuse what’s literal and what’s metaphorical in the poem?
What does this confusion say about the speaker’s memory of Vietnam?
The poem’s final image—“In the black mirror/a woman’s trying to erase names:/No, she's
brushing a boy’s hair”—is especially powerful. How is it similar to previous images and how is
it different? Why might Komunyakaa have chosen this particular description to end the poem?
Sassoon wrote "Dreamers" in the second decade of the Twentieth Century to counteract the view
that going to war was a great adventure. Do some people today still glorify combat?  Should all
citizens be required to serve in the military?

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