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In your answer you should make close reference to the language of poems.
Both poems deal with conflict but both in different ways. In ‘War Music’, we are shown physical conflict, at first creating a heroic image of Ajax. However, ‘Refugee Blues’ deals with inner conflict due to their German-Jewish background of which they are pre-judged against. Moreover, its structure of twelve stanzas is interesting with its relation to twelve bar blues: music with a depressing tone and the fact that each stanza could represent a month and therefore, in total, a year.
This effectively emphasises the German-Jewish couple’s stressful struggle in their attempted migration.
Like ‘Refugee Blues’, the title ‘From War Music’ already suggests a relation to music. Where it could be possibly suggesting that war is music towards those who appreciate conflict. The conflict is not conveyed negatively at first as Ajax is portrayed to be a heroic figure of which Ajax’s arms were ‘outspread’. Only himself was there to defend against the Trojans which ‘swarmed so thick’ as he ‘simply pushed’ showing us the brute strength which Ajax himself possesses.
Its beginning of a one line stanza stands out to us with “cut to the fleet”. A bold statement which is two-fold: almost as if it were a movie with the word “cut” and the violence and consequence of war again with the use of the word “cut”.
On the other hand, ‘Refugee Blues’ is less “action-packed” and more dramatic. It consists of twelve stanzas of which in each one, they are constantly rejected by the country they have migrated to.
The repetition of “my dear” in each stanza is an attempt to comfort the ever so pessimistic, tense and regretful situation. Moreover, it shows us their identity before they even mention they are ‘German Jews’ as this is a typical Jewish phrase. Their racial background is the main focus since it is the cause of all the inner conflict due to the rejection and depression which is created throughout.
In ‘War Music’, the writer, Christopher Logue successfully paints us a picture of the action. The Trojans which ‘swarmed so thick’ are closely related to air which was also ‘thick with arrows’ suggesting that there was almost as many Trojans as arrows. The use of onomatopoeia gives us a realistic sense of sound with the use of words such as ‘tickered’ and ‘clamouring’, we are able to visualise such a chaotic but heroic image. Furthermore, the furious pace of the battle is reinforced with a metaphor of Ajax’s head reaching ‘back and forth//like a clapper inside a bell made out of sword blades’. Ajax is clearly the main focus of conflict and evidently a warrior to fight till death; ‘Maybe, even with no breath left’.
‘Refugee Blues’ uses images of religion of ‘steal our daily bread’ possibly emphasise that they have lost enough already as this reinforces the theme of inner conflict. Moreover, their constant rejection is further strengthened through their envy of the animals which seemed to have more rights than themselves: ‘Saw a door opened and a cat let in…saw the birds in the trees…and sang at their ease’. In their comparison to the animals, their lack of freedom and loss of their own country is emphasised effectively that we are invited to sympathise from the fact they trapped in such a complex situation.
Like ‘Refugee Blues’, ‘From War Music’ also has its use of religious images. Ajax, who is seen to be the hero at the start gradually fades away from the fact his opponent, Hector is the one who ‘God was pleased’ with. Therefore, Ajax is destined to fail in his attempt to defeat Hector. The second stanza describes to us the one on one battle between the two of which Ajax’s destiny is shown through Hector’s quickness as he ‘skipped’, ‘jived’ and ‘snicked the haft clean through its neck’. Again Logue skilfully uses the descriptions to create such a scene of conflict. Moreover, God is once again mentioned in conclusion as he ‘stood by Hector’s elbow’ and not by Ajax’s. Evidently, God’s appearance is repeated, emphasising that Hector was destined to win and Ajax destined to lose.
In conclusion, both poems are successful in conveying conflict but both in different ways. They each conclude negatively where in ‘Refugee Blues’, it ends in desolation ‘in the falling snow’. The use of pathetic fallacy reinforces the tone of depression and pessimism. Furthermore, ‘From War Music’ ends with a strong statement that ‘The ship was burned’. It stands out to us like the first stanza since it is only one line but it clearly links back to the beginning and middle. Overall, each poem uses the theme of conflict effectively and successfully, leading to the negative conclusions.
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