War has always been a great tragedy for all people. It has been the constant companion of humanity. However, this accompaniment was not joyful. Million of deaths, destroyed cities and countries are just some of the disasters which war brings. However, each meaningful event in the history of humanity gives a great motivation for the development of art.
Three poems May 1915 by Charlotte Mew, Returning, We Hear the Larks and On receiving the first news of the war was written as a reaction to the WWI. These works describe the tragedy of war in different ways. However, it is still possible to find common motifs and themes in them. Being different in their structure and stylistic devices, these three poems, however, are devoted to the exploration of the motif of death, destruction, and renewal which are integral parts of the war.
The authors chose different ways to describe their idea. Charlotte Mew directly says about the approach of new spring, and its symbolic meaning is clear and understandable, while Rosenberg uses metaphors and allegories, underlining the power of art and human soul which both can stop the war and renew the world. Moreover, the authors tried to show that each tragedy is usually followed by a new beginning, which is usually associated with spring.
To start the analysis of these poems, it is necessary to understand the peculiarities of the epoch and conditions under which these works have been written. Beginning of the 20th century was a very anxious time. The whole world lived in waiting for the great war, which had never been seen before.
These expectations proved true and the war came. WWI was the most terrifying, cruel, and bloody war people had seen before. Being shocked with the innumerable quality of deaths, poets tried to express their feelings and remind people about the value of human life. That is why the theme of death and renewal became very popular among poets of this period.
The poem May, 1915 by Charlotte Mew is one of the works devoted to the issue of death and renewal. The author describes spring as a healer which can heal all wounds of the war. “Spring will come again” says the author. She means that the war will end and nature will prevail. It is the usual way in which our world functions.
The author just says that people should wait for this end to come. The phrase “healing breeze” just emphasizes the curative influence of spring. Moreover, spring can be taken as a symbol. It is the metaphor for renewal of our world, a new era in which mankind will forget about wars and murders. The issue of renewal of the world is common for poets which created their works at that period of time, as it was necessary to believe in new beginning.
Death will be forgotten and humanity will live happily. With the help of words “Surely the Spring, when God shall please, Will come again like a divine surprise” the author makes emphasis on her words, underlining divine beginning of renovation of the world. God will pay attention to the tragedy of war and stop it. In the last lines of the poem the issue of death appears. The author says, that death would be avoided. People, murdered on battlefields, will have another chance and love will be the way to solve their souls.
Another poem devoted to the issue of war, death, and renewal is Returning We Hear the Larks by Isaac Rosenberg. In this poem, the author shows that in spite of all horrors of the war and events, which could scare anyone, there is still a place for joy, happiness, and admiration of beauty. The first lines are devoted to the description of solders vision of the war. They know about the threat which awaits them.
Moreover, the line “Dragging these anguished limbs” shows that they are exhausted by constant tension and danger. The mood of the first lines is dull. Though, it changes suddenly, introducing new emotions. A flock of larks brings this change. The author underlines that soldiers know about the risk and threat which exist, though they could not but feel joy while listening to larks song.
“Death could drop from the dark As easily as the song” though people do not care about it, enjoying moments of tranquility, trying to give rest to their souls. The author uses motifs of death, renewal, and art in his poem. He underlines that war has pernicious effect on people, though they still survive and, what is more important, they save their souls and inner world. It becomes possible due to the help of art and song which bring some renewal to exhausted souls.
The last poem under analysis is also devoted to the issue of war and renewal. It is On receiving the first news of the war by Isaac Rosenberg. It is devoted to the recognition of news about the war by the author. He got to new about it being in Africa and the first lines “Snow is a strange white word. No ice or frost” is the authors description of his acceptance of this news. The poem shows the authors perplexity about the war and his bewilderment.
The line “No man knows why” shows these emotions. The war started suddenly and in a very strange way. However, the author says that there is something in the heart of every man. It is difficult to guess what the author means. Nevertheless, we can suggest that he says about the war and evil, which lies deep in every persons soul. Touching internal issue of evil and good, Rosenberg also mentions God in the lines “God’s blood is shed. He mourns from His lone place His children dead”.
Gods blood can be taken as an allegory for those who will die in this war and all the blood which will spill. Though, the author still hopes for renewal. The last word of the poem is the word bloom, which is usually associated with spring, new beginning and renewal. Understanding terrifying character of the war, all victims and destructions which it brings, the author is still sure that it will end and there will be the new beginning.
Having analyzed three poems, it is possible to make some conclusions. The authors were concerned about the great tragedy of war and tried to express their feelings and emotions. Moreover, the description of the horrors of war is followed by the hope for a new beginning, which will come with a new spring. The authors also wanted to show great strength of a peoples soul and its ability to admire the beauty of nature on the battlefields, being close to death.