Analysis of Poem Lament by Gillian Clarke
I didn't understand these particular stanzas...
"For the ocean's lap with its mortal stain.
For Ahmed at the closed border. For the soldier in his uniform of fire."
For Ahmed at the closed border.
For the soldier in his uniform of fire."
"For the gunsmith and the armourer,
The boy fusilier who joined for the company,
The farmer’s sons, in it for the music."
For the burnt earth and the sun put out,
the scalded ocean and the blazing well.
For vengeance, and the ashes of language
For Gillian Clarke's poem "Lament," the stanzas shown use imagery and metaphors to describe the realities of what occurred in the Gulf War. (Poetry is very subjective, speaking to different people in different ways. These are my perceptions only.)
"For the ocean's lap with its mortal stain" refers to the blood of those killed that fills the water. (See note below.)
Gillian Clarke comments on her poem in the following lines:
‘Lament’ is an elegy, an expression of grief. It can be a sad, military tune played on a bugle. The poem uses the title as the start of a list of lamented people, events, creatures and other things hurt in the war, so after the word ‘lament’, every verse, and 11 lines, begin with ‘for’."For the ocean's lap with its mortal stain" refers to the blood of the dead in the water.
"For Ahmed at the closed border" may simply refer to someone who cannot return home because of the war.
"The soldier in his uniform of fire" brings to mind a soldier who is on fire, perhaps the result of a the crash of a vehicle, or being hit by mortar fire.
"The gunsmith...armourer, The boy fusilier" (soldier who carries a light musket...gun) all refer to those responsible for making the trappings of war, or using them. The poet laments (mourns) for them.
"The farmer's sons, in it for the music" may refer to young men who lived in the country and wanted to be a part of something bigger, drawn perhaps by radios other soldiers carried, or even for the idea that people might sing of their exploits as has been done in the past for soldiers.
"For the burnt earth and the sun put out" could speak to the bombing of the earth that has scorched its surface, and the rising smoke from this that blocks out the sun because it is so thick.
"The scalded ocean and the blazing well" brings to mind the terrible heat from missile fire that destroys wells, and the ocean's surface because Kuwait (where this fighting takes place) rests on the shore of the Kuwait Bay/the Persian Gulf).
The last line refers to vengeance, and the sorrow the poet feels for death caused by a need for it; she also mourse for the loss of language, or the loss of voices to speak the language, perhaps the loss of the opportunity to find words of peace to stop the fighting.
The moral stain refers to the stain of oil spreading on the surface of the ocean because of bombed oil wells.
'Ahmed' symbolizes under-age boys pulled into battle because of shortage of soldiers.
uniform of fire is a reference to the soldiers who are present in a tank when it is hit. It shows the uncertianty of the job, they may return and they may not.
the gunsmith and the armourer are people who should not be lamented for, because they seem to be encouraging the war. yet the poet mentions them and their ignorance, they seem to not realize that they could be killed by one of their creations
the boy fusilier who joined for the company, is the boy who joined because he saw that everyone his age was also joining the armour. he wanted the 'company' of poeple his age, despite the fact that he had to join the army.
'the burnt earth and sun put out' are oxymorons, it is usually the sun that burns, and the image of the earth is one that denotes a cooling image. yet these two have swapped roles, nature has been defied and destroyed, and neither are in harmony
the blazing well symbolises the oil wells hit by missles etc, they are on fire and the ocean is scalded along with them
she laments the end of vengence, the helpless creatures that are dying because of the war cannot achieve vengence.
the ashes of language is a very powerful image. language signifies communication, and this phrase denotes the breakdown of communication, and thus wars will continue because only by the calming effect of words can war be stopped, ie. the pen is mightier than the sword.
listen everything is going to be okay