In ‘Bayonet charge’ and ‘Belfast confetti’ the consequences of war are presented as inhumane, devastating and confusing by the poets. In both poems a range of semantic fields are used to display the confusion of the soldier in ‘Bayonet charge’ and the civilian in ‘Belfast confetti’. For example in ‘Belfast confetti’: “Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys. A fount of broken type. And the explosion. Itself – an asterisk on the map. This hyphenated line, a burst of rapid fire…” Several semantic fields are used at once.
For instance “nuts, bolts, nails and car keys” belong to a semantic field of household objects, whilst “asterisk” and “hyphenated line” would fit in to a semantic field of punctuation and “explosion” and “rapid fire” are part of wars semantic field. This use of variation in semantic fields creates a sense of confusion as the words do not fit in with the scene Carson is trying to paint, much like the civilian does not fit in with the war that is raging on around him. Similarly Hughes also uses the semantic field of nature as metaphors to create confusion: Stumbling across a field of clods towards a green hedge” “Clods” are something used to describe mud or soil in a field. Here Hughes are using them as a metaphor for the people who had fallen during the charge. This metaphor shows how disorientated the soldier is, “stumbling” around the field oblivious to what he was walking through. However the poet makes the soldiers ignorance sound as if it was forced, that in order to make it through the battle he had to ignore what was happening to his comrades.
The metaphor “field of clods” also shows the inhumanity applied to warfare, making the soldiers appear as nothing more than pieces of earth not human beings who had lives and families. It also shows how devastating the battles were, as an entire field has been covered with the remains of those fighting. “Green hedge”, another metaphor used in the quotation I have chosen, used to describe the end of the soldiers time on the battlefield. I felt that this was particularly powerful as the colour green and nature, in general, are used to represent life and hope, something which would seem out f place in a battlefield meaning that the metaphor also serves as an oxymoron. Both poems consist of many enjambments. Structuring the poem in such a way causes the poems to gain a stop, start rhythm. I felt that this made them sound like the train of thought coming from the subject of each poem. Often cutting off and continuing or switching points completely much like a person in a state of confusion unable to focus solely on one thing before finding more questions to ask to attempt to ease their confused state.
By setting the poems out this way both Carson and Hughes allow the reader to be enveloped in the same state of confusion creating empathy between the reader and the subject. Hughes uses mechanical imagery in order to show the inhumane consequences of war: “Sweating like molten iron from the centre of his chest” The use of the simile “Molten iron” makes the soldier sound mechanical and inhumane as it appears to be coming from within the “centre of his chest”.
This suggests that the poet believes that war and conflict devastates a persons humanity, becoming nothing more than a weapon. This also adds to the effect of the verb “Sweating” showing us that despite how inhumane the soldier may be, he is still scared enough to be “Sweating” conveying his fear to the reader. Meanwhile Carson explores the devastating effect war has on the land it takes place on: “I know this labyrinth so well” The contrast within the quotation displays how much the area has been ruined.
The phrase “So well” emphasises the degree to which the subject knows the area he is talking about, the personal address term “I know” also creates a sense of desperation and longing for the town this person had once known but would now have to use a map to find the right road. “Labyrinth”, more likely to be found in Greek mythology, describes a maze almost impossible to escape or find your way around. Here this metaphor displays the extent of the damage done to the town.
So devastated and unrecognisable that a person who, presumably, had lived there most of their lives could get lost. Overall the poets use metaphors and enjambments to allow the reader to empathise with the subjects of the poems allowing us to see how the consequences of war would have affected them. I personally found Carsons use of contrast and reference to Greek mythology particularly evocative, letting us see the scale of devastation caused by war.
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