The theme of profound depression is illustrated in this poem, which is based on the Vietnam War. The poet depicts needless war and aggression, as well as a senseless desire to fight and be killed. At the start, there is a clever use of imagery that conveys the war’s carefree mindset. That in reality, lives are lost, but to the participants, it is merely mathematics, simple body counts. This is evident when the author questions, “Who allowed such monstrous things to happen?” The poet evokes a sense of helplessness and impending doom, of breastless mothers and armless infants. The poem in its rhetoric makes one wonder why there had to be a war in the first place and for what gain. Questions such as Who made them crawl in the mud, who sent them to die or even worse live highlight the plight and a lack of hands on control of the destiny of a foot soldier. They who cause death but for reasons and gains they do not fully understand and profit from respectively.
Desperation is so deeply engraved in this poem through effective application of enjambments. As a reader, one is captured in the emphatic diction of the inability to actually do something about the war and its consequences. For instance, the poet asks What must we do? This highlights the knowledge that something needs to be done but what exactly can yield results is unknown. At one point the writer trembles for their country and admits to the fact that they have to walk in shame for the failures and scars of war. It is excruciatingly painful to accept defeat yet it is the only way in the offing.
The Vietnam War as detailed in this poem, is cruel, cold and crestfallen. It makes us question the need for a war if at all it yields this much despair. It further breaks the hearts of many who read of it and leaves the profound scars of the physical and psychological effects tattooed in the lives of those who lived it.
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