What does the line, ''As under the green sea, I saw him drowning,'' actually represent within the poem

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The narrator is watching another soldier who has inhaled mustard or chlorine gas choking to death as he coughs up blood and fluid from his lungs. He seems to be "drowning" because he can't breathe, given the liquid that he is "gargling."

"Dim through the misty panes and thick green light / As through a green sea" depicts the view the narrator has as he watches the man through his gas mask. The gas shell that was dropped has created a green cloud around the soldier, and furthermore, the gas masks often had green glass in them, glass that was often wavy because it wasn't of the best quality. Seeing through the glass in the gas mask the suffering soldier flounder as he gags on his own blood, the narrator describes him as "drowning" because he seems to be underwater and dying from the effects of the gas.

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