Bayonet Charge by Ted Hughs

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  • Created by: randall04
  • Created on: 28-10-19 17:54
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  • Bayonet Charge by Ted Hughs
    • context
      • hugh's father served in WW1 making it through to the end (possibly providing influence for the poem)
      • he spent two years serving in the RAF as a mechanic
      • unlike most WW1 poetry this was published in 1957, 39 years after the end of the war
      • referred to as going over the top (of the trenches) fixing bayonets and charging the enemy was one of the most bloody ways to gain ground in WW1
      • hughs grew up in the coutryside
      • hughs was also a fan of wilfred owens works
    • form and structure
      • the poem begins in the middle of the action creating a sense of confusing conveying how the solider feels
      • uses enjambment between stanzas
      • uses caesura both times in the second stanza forces the reader to stop and think
        • creates chaotic and disjointed strcuture
          • uses enjambment between stanzas
      • repetition of raw can show the difficulty if expressing the moment. reflects the shock the solider has waking up to this charge
        • this is a reference to wildfred owens 'spring offensive' which could be hughs saying that he cant articulate the horrors of war so you must look to others to be able to
          • words to do with temperature,crawling,plunged past. COULD BE AS IT WAS HIS EARLY POETRY SO HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN INFLUENCED
      • three stanzas of eight seven eight lines could be used to convey the disjointment of his running
    • quotes
      • Suddenly he awoke and was running- raw In raw-seamed hot khaki
        • uses in media res (starting in the middle of the action) to confuse the reader much like how the solider feels.he awoke conveys the fact that he has waken up from a dream (his real life) and has to disregard that identity in order to be a solider.
          • this experience is raw for the solider indicating the physical and emotional pain of war. this is done through the repition and enjambment
          • speed is conveyed through the use of the verb running and the adverb suddenly however the sentence doesnt end conveying the breathlessness of the solider. however it is also slowed down through the long sentence and enjambment coveying the sense of timelessness that permeates throughout the poem
          • the uniform which is meant to protect him is making his skin raw and hurting him
          • he is so desperate to escape that even his sweat is heavy, preventing him from moving. he is feeling the pressure
      • bullets smacking the belly out of the air - He lugged a rifle numb as a smashed arm
        • they are fighting nature with the verb smacking coveys the violence of the war. they are being abandoned by god. the simile like a smashed arm conveys that the rifle has no use to the solider and is rather a hinderance than a help. the poem is also called bayonet charge- so the bayonet is what is useful rather than the rifle
      • In what cold clockwork of the stars and the nationsWas he the hand pointing that second?
        • The reference to “cold clockwork” suggests the arbitrary yet inevitable nature of the war, in which nations found themselves drawn into conflict through political mismanagement.
        • he realises he is a victim of propaganda  by nations#
        • the stars are heavenly imagry and cold could be god not being present or caring
        • cold clock work is harsh alliteration could be viewed as cold and unforgiving much like war. cold clockwork could also be an allusion to the fact that death cant be stopped like a clock wound up. could also be  soliders as they have to work like clockwork and fight
        • by being the second hand on the clock it could represent the small part solider play in the wars and their insignifcance
      • Threw up a yellow hare that rolled like a flameAnd crawled in a threshing circle, its mouth wideOpen silent, its eyes standing out.
        • yellow is a colour of cowardice what many of the men may have felt. the simile conveys its pain . by having  it be in a 'threshin circle' conveys its pain . it shows the affect of mechanised war fare on nature with them all dying. its being destroyed
      • King, honour, human dignity, etceteraDropped like luxuries in a yelling alarm
        • Reality has neutralised idealism. The soldier’s existence is reduced to the small distance between himself and the aim of his bayonet: an enemy soldier hiding in the hedge. critique of propaganda
        • The noble values of the previous line are like ‘luxuries’, ideals that do not exist for a soldier in an extreme situation where his life and the enemy’s are in desperate conflict. In this situation patriotism has no value.
      • To get out of that blue crackling airHis terror’s touchy dynamite.
        • The alliterative ’t' sounds represent his fear, as if the slightest touch will make him jump. The word ‘touchy’ suggests nerves stretched to the limit. The ’t’s could also symbolise the ticking time bomb of inevitable death. ‘Dynamite’ represents the explosiveness of the weapons, and his equally explosive fear. Finally ‘dynamite’ could indicate that the soldiers have lost their humanity and are reduced to weapons.
        • The length of the last four lines gets progressively shorter, as if he is being consumed by the horror and words are disappearing in the face of overwhelming desperation to survive.
        • blue crackling air=bullets
  • uses the semantic field of colour

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