War Poem from a different era because I’m Like That

So we’ve mentioned a few times how war books have similar tropes, especially¬† comparing WWI to Vietnam, “The Things They Carried” to “All Quiet”. This made me think of a poem by W.S Merwin (I think about the collection this is from, The Lice, once a day)¬†written in response to the absurdity of war, the destruction, the hyper-nationalism rampant during the Vietnam War era similar to the period around WWI. It felt relevant to our discussion of patriotism during the Great War, if anyone is interested!

When the War is Over

When the war is over
We will be proud of course the air will be
Good for breathing at last
The water will have been improved the salmon
And the silence of heaven will migrate more perfectly
The dead will think the living are worth it we will know
Who we are
And we will all enlist again

I would recommend the collection this is from to anyone btw! Especially in our current times it has come back around in its relevance.

1 thought on “War Poem from a different era because I’m Like That

  1. This piece reminds me so much of the phrase we’ve referenced in class time and time again, “the war to end all wars” and “the peace to end all peace.”

    In all of the texts we’ve read so far this semester, we’ve seen this conflation of nationalism with patriotism and this poem does a really neat job of poking fun at that.

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