Thomas Hardy's crude war
Many war poems do not glamorize war. They show an honest look at the battlefield showing the irony, crudeness, and cruelty of war. Thomas Hardy communicates these ideas in his poems, "Channel Firing," Drummer Hodge," and "The Man he Killed." In all of these, he shows how war is crude, not glamorous.
In "The Man he Killed," Hardy shows the reader the irony of war. In this poem, the reader is shown irony of situation, where there is a discrepancy between actual circumstances and those that would seem appropriate to the reader. The main character in this poem is at a bar and drinks with a man. The poem reads: "He and I but met/ By some old ancient inn/ We should have sat us down to wet/ Right many a nipperkin!" The two men drink together and have fun. But then the poem turns to the battlefield, where the two meet again. Here they are enemies, and they shoot at each other. "I shot at him as he as me." The main character kills the man with whom he had a drink. The author comments on the irony of the situation in the last stanza. "Yes; how quaint and curious war is! You shoot a fellow down/ You treat, if met where any bar is." Hardy is states that in war, your enemy is your enemy. War does not stop for friends caught on opposing sides. War is crude.
In "Channel Firing," Hardy uses certain techniques to convey the theme of the crudeness of war. In this poem, guns firing out at sea are so loud that they wake up the dead. This contains a hyperbole, with the dead waking. Guns would not really wake the dead, but when they go off like that, no one alive can sleep. They dead think it is judgement day. But God tells them, "No; It's just gunnery practice out at sea," and He comments on how war is getting worse. "All nations striving strong to make/ Red war yet redder." When God comments on how cruel war is, the reader knows how bad it is. This is also a unique type of personification, with the dead talking.
In "Drummer Hodge," Hardy uses imagery to describes the burial sight of an English soldier who had fought in a battle in Africa. He describes the surroundings, such as the foreign constellations in the sky, and the unfamiliar dirt, which he is buried under. This poem also demonstrates the crudeness of war in the first stanza. "They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest/ Uncoffined - just as found." The man died bravely in battle, and they bury him in a common grave, with no coffin. How glamorous is that?
Thomas Hardy was obviously not a supporter of war. He uses his style of death to convey perhaps a feeling of protest. He uses his techniques of imagery, irony, hyperbole, and personification to express his common theme: war is crude.