The effects of war are slightly different to the reality of war due to the fact that the war itself affects only the soldiers directly, whilst the effects of war can extend onto non-combatants, including the families of those involved. Some of those long-term effects can include the fleeing of refugees from war-torn areas where up-keeping a reasonable standard of living is no longer attainable, as well as PTSD manifestations, etc.
Remains by Simon Armitage explores the ins and outs of PTSD in a soldier returned from the war-torn middle east. The first two lines of the third stanza reflect the exact emotional turmoil that weighs down on the soldier. It illustrates the idea that the soldier is perfectly capable of taking a life, and doing so with ease- this is outlined by the hyperbolic metaphor of “rips through his life” asserting the life of the looter and his body are one and the same. The light imagery that follows can be indicative of the good times to come, which would imply the job of the soldier was finished and done correctly.
“End of story, except not really” not only illustrates the idea that the war goes on for a while after the job of the soldier is done, but also the idea that the traumatic experience he has endured will remain with him for equally as long.
Contrastingly, “Poppies” illustrates the female perspective on war, written from a mother’s viewpoint regarding watching her son go off to war. “threw [the door] open” is symbolic of the mother’s acceptance of the decisions of her son. It is important to remember the idea that as the speaker, the mother will likely not be willing to let her son go to war and risk his life, however she respects his decision.
“I listened, hoping to hear your playground voice” as a conclusion is very significant due to the fact that it illustrates the mother’s grief over the loss of her child, as well as the fact that she personally still viewed her son as a young child, which may form the view that he was not ready to make such an adult decision as joining the army.
Poppies and Remains are of excellent contrast due to the fact that the speakers are of opposite genders therefore the stark divisiveness of the two perspectives allows for a wide range of comparison. Both of the poems in question also invoke the theme of memory, with Poppies being calm and sorrowful, whilst Remains is a little more erratic and brimming with frustration.
War Photographer utilises adjectives such as “finally” to outline the idea that the war photographer in question is also suffering from PTSD, whilst “spools of suffering” can be viewed as a metaphor for the turmoil of those featured in the photographs. Simultaneously, the “ordered rows” Duffy refers to could be indicative of people being shot en masse in the battle field, as well as invoking the imagery of a graveyard.
The contrast of returning to “rural England” and the remembrance of the cries of “that man’s wife” pose the notion that upon returning home from the war, it is not easy to forget the depressing nature of the atrocities witnessed.
The Emigrée explores the memory of seeking refuge from a war-torn country. The utilisation of punctuation in the form of ellipses, and light imagery, eludes to the idea that the narration will likely be retrospective and positive, highlighting the speaker only has good memories of the country fled; this is a juxtaposition of her understanding the exact reason as to why she was forced to leave to begin with. “They accuse me of being dark in their free city” refers to the attitudes of the general public of where she may have emigrated to, towards refugees and immigrants- this highlights the long-term issues of refugees and the effects war has on the innocent