Marching Men

Marjorie Pickthall

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Literal

  • The literal meaning of Marching Men is that the soldiers of world war I were just marching to their death
  • Steadfast: to be firm and unwavering

Situation

  • This poem tells the tragic story of the many men who ran to their deaths in world war I. "They marched in holiest fellowship" (Pickthall 6) this exert from Marching Men shows the soldiers commitment to war and how they "marched" to their deaths
  • This poem shows a very sad and somber mood. One line in particular shows how the war effected those who family to the killed "Seven swords have rent a woman's heart" (Pickthall 12). This lines meaning is that the wife, mother, sister, etc... hearts have been cut into seven due to someone close to them dying in war.
  • The speaker of the poem has a very morbid tone about the topic. She uses words like "death", "grave", and "careless" which gives it a negative sad vibe.
  • It would be right to read this poem with a very low and dark feel.

Structure

Form:

  • The form of this poem is a couplet. This means the rhyme scheme is aa bb cc and so on. I think she chose this form because each line has more of an impact when it rhymes with the last and she wanted to display the effects of the war
Movement:

  • The poem develops in chronological order. It starts with what the soldiers were doing before there charge, then it goes to as they were running in on the enemies, and after they finished the fight it talks of the grieving loved ones.
Syntax:

  • There are six sentences in this poem. The sentences go along with each couplet.
Punctuation:

  • The punctuation goes along with the couplets.
  • This poem has many examples of enjambments.
Title:

  • The title "Marching Men" is referring to the soldiers marching into combat.


Language

  • This poem uses formal language. The poet does not use any slang terms and she used words like "unpurged" and "steadfast"
  • This poem includes many biblical allusions including "I saw a thousand Christs go by" (Pickthall 2). The biblical allusions add more ideas of death due to the association between Christianity and death.

Musical devices

  • The rhyme scheme of this poem is aa bb cc dd. This has a pleasing effect on the readers ear, each line rolls off the tong better than the last.
  • The poet ends the poem with a couplet that ends in stressed syllables "And for each one, far off, apart, Seven swords have rent a woman's heart" (Pickthall 11-12). This has a lasting effect on the reader because the stressed syllables stay in the mind better than unstressed.

citation

"Twelve Great First World War Poems." The Week UK. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Mar. 2015. <http://www.theweek.co.uk/arts-life/59798/twelve-great-first-world-war-poems>.