Theme: Love, injuries, renewing of a relationship after the effects of war.
Form: 1st person narrative, freeverse containing rhyme.
Structure: Different injuries introduced in different couplets.
Language: Ambiguous (unclear), metaphorical, told with feeling and care by Laura.
Imagery: Vivid, related to the human body, to the mechanics of familiar objects and to war.
Physical and mental war wounds suffered by her lover.
Intimate relationship between Laura and her lover.
War immagery and injuries suggest emotional pain caused by war, images of the wounded soldeir revolve around his broken body and how familiar objects work.
Does Laura love him or is it just pity?
A soldier returning from war.
Contains first powerful image.
Tells us the powen is written in a womans point of view, the wife or lover of the soldier.
She is searching for the man she knew.
There are connotations in the word "Manhunt". A manhunt is the searching of a wanted man. War is predatory. It's business is to seek out the enemy.
Mystery and Ambiguity
Throughout the poem the soldier stays silent and un-known. We hear about him through Laura's voice. We don't what his responses are, only what his wounds are. Unspoken words tell us that these wounds run deep. His silence allows the reader to "come close" to the gravity and destruction of war.
The words "come close" end the poem. But for the reader it isn't finished. We want to know what Laura comes close to, is it Love? Pity? Understanding? Intimacy? The mystery remains however mmany times we read the poem, because there is no answer. We can't know what he feels and there is no way of fully describing the sufferings of war.
Love and fragility
"After the first phase,
after passionate nights and intimate days,"
First part of the relationship, the honeymoon phase. Everything is good and happy. Normal peom...
"only then would he let me trace
the frozen river which ran through his face,"
Slowly overcoming esistance. Emphasises small steps taken in a long process. 'Trace' waiting for him to let her touch him after he has come back from war. Love. Metaphor, Scar? Self concious of it, traumatic event. Un-inviting. Not feeling good about himself . Suggests scars are deeper than surface.
"only then would he let me explore
the blown hinge of his lower jaw,"
Ashamed to show it before. Breaking his resistance. Fragility of the human body. Familiar objects. Injury, hurt.
"And handle and hold
the damaged, porcelain collar-bone,"
Fragile action, eloquence. Never fully healed, newly broken. Fragility of human body, collar-bone is fine china. Beautiful, fragile, precious. The poem deals with delicate matter.
"and mind and attend
the fractured rudder of shoulder-blade,"
Look after, care for, allowed to touch, light, lovingly, close in love. Familiar objects, images of the lover revolve around his broken body. Injurys from war. broken, physical pain that can be healed.
"and finger and thumb
the parachute silk of his punctured lung."
Gentle action, getting to know feel of injuries. Shows fragility of human body. Silk is delicate and smooth. Prachutes are supposed to save you, contrasts with the punctured lung. War image.Used by military.Plosive sound, literal and metaphorical injury, scars. Serious injury, diffuculty breathing/breathless. Full stop, end of external injuries.
Internal Injuries close to heart
"Only then could I bind the struts
and climb the rungs of his broken ribs,"
Taken a long time to gain his trust. Trying/ making him better. Love is healing. Binding his wounds. Exploring his injuries from the war, see the damage. Climbing inside him to give him strength. Internal injuries, close to his heart.
"and feel the hurt
of his grazed heart."
Trying to understand his physical and emotional pain, trying to feel his pain with him. Internal pain, newly hurt, will leave a scar. Not broken, can be healed, poet is going to heal it. Full stop. End of internal pain.
only then could I picture the scan,"
Careful, gentle, aware. Avoiding main problem, making her way around carefuly, trying not to trigger his pain. Excitement, contrast with the bullet. His body/ hurt is as vulnerable as a baby.
"the foetus of metal beneath his chest
where the bullet had finaly come to rest."
Baby, something embedded. Babies develop, problem that if it's not dealt with it will develop. Wont go away. Can't remove bullet- cause other problems. Had done all harm, still there, memory of pain, reminder. Will always be there. Wont properly go away. Full stop, end of the physical pain. End of exploring the bullet. Found the source of the physical pain.
"Then I widened the search,
traced the scarring back to it's source."
Wants to get to the bottom of pain and solve it. Pulls out of moment desperate to find more. Not physical pain anymore, emotional search. Where it all started. Wants to solve the source. Stop all of the pain.
"to a sweating, unexploded mine
buried deep in his mind, around which"
Close to exploding, bomb needs to be diffused carefully, slowly. Emphasises metaphysical pain. Emotional and mental pain that can't be solved or will take a long time and a lot of effort to be solved. Tension, not going to go away, wrong move could set it off.
"every nerve in his body had tightened and closed.
Then, and only then, did I come close."
All feeling locked in so no more pain can be caused. Tense, nervous, close to source. Blocked out memory, hidden, locked away, end, death. Everything she has done, would have been close to solving it, but she is only close now. A person unable to talk to their experiences, will it ever be solved? Come close to what? Pain? Intimacy? Love?
Compare this poem with...
Nettles- about a father protecting his son. War immagery used, pain caused by nettles.
Sonnet 116- the idea that love doesn't alter.