We have to write an essay about Chapter 4, and the teacher forces us to write a poem as a part of essay to show how well we understand the whole chapter.
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Since much of Remarque's language is impressionistic, it should not be difficult to write a poem that contains imagery. Of course, the scene with the horses is very poignant and lends itself well to verse. However, many of the students will probably use it, so you may wish to find another subject.
Perhaps you could make a poem from the section that begins,
After a few hours it is done.[unrolling the wire at the front that has spikes] But there is still some time before the lorries come. Most of us lie down and sleep. I try also, but it has turned too chilly. We know we are not far from the sea because we are constantly waked by the cold.
Once I fall fast asleep. Then wakening suddenly with a start i do not know where I am. I see the stars, I see the rockets, and for a moment have the impression that I have fallen asleep at a garden fete. I don't know whether it is morning or evening, I lie in the pale cradle of twilight, and listen for soft words which will come, soft and near--am I crying?.....
This second paragraph lends itself well to poetic verse. Something that begins like this, maybe:
Is it the cold hand of the ocean which rocks me?
In the pale cradle of twilight, I wake and hope to be free,
But I am in a garden, where I have stumbled from war.
The old veteran sits quietly, smoking his pipe under cover;
He says, "It was only a nose-cap, landed away far.
Mighty fine fireworks, if only they weren't something of danger."
I lie still and wonder, What will become of Kat; what will become of me?
First, decide on a passage from the chapter that you find significant--the most significant part of the chapter from my perspective is the section about the crying of the horses. Then, analyze the theme of the passage that you have chosen--the narrator Paul, speaks much in this chapter about the men having "animal instincts" while on the battlefield. From there, you can draft your poem so that it speaks to the theme that you have analyzed.
In the passage about the horses in Chapter 4, Paul notes that the horses, which are normally used only for transporting goods, have gotten stuck in the crossfire. Using vivid imagery, Paul details how the wounded horses look and how they sound as they cry in their suffering. Detering claims that it is a sorry time to have animals suffering in the war--this is a metaphor which suggests that the young soldiers and all others involved should also not be suffering in the war. My essay and poem would revolve around these ideas.
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