- The poem is about a soldier's experience of a violent battle. It describes his thoughts and actions as he desperately tries to avoid being shot.
- The opening words of the poem sounds like he's in a vulnerable confused state. It also proves this is real,even though it seems like a nightmare.
- The opening suggests he was trying to escape from the reality he is in He's in uniform we can picture him as a soldier. The poet uses the pronoun "he" rather than naming the soldier to keep him anonymous. It suggests that he is a universal figure who could represent any young soldier.
- The word 'raw' suggests his fear. This word can have several connotations such as pain/discomfort or inexperience, as if he had been taken out of his peaceful life and thrown into war.
- On the fourth line we are shows that he's confused while facing gunfire. The word ‘dazzled’ creates imagery of the sparks of the bullets ricocheting around him. The violent imagery on the fifth line further describes the sound and impact of the shots 'Bullets smacking'
- His rifle seems useless further emphasising the horror and physical pain of the battle. 'he lugged a rifle numb as a smashed arm'
- The end of the stanza highlights the instinctive reaction of a soldier to firing from the enemy. Dying for your country seems irrational and therefore Hughes forces the reader to question patriotism.
- The contrast between 'patriotic' ideals and reality is seen through a powerful image – the reason he went to war. The soldier's overriding emotion and motivation is fear, which has replaced the more 'patriotic' ideals that he held before the violence began.
- The second stanza pauses the action and the soldier wonders why he is there. Bewilderment results from the run for life and the patriotic awareness sweats from his chest like molten iron.