"Lament," by Gillian Clarke, is an anti-war poem. When written it was directed at the Gulf War in 1991. This poem was inspired by pictures taken by the media that showed the death and devastation caused by the war raging originally between Kuwait and Afghanistan.
The language Clarke uses impactful language that creates disturbing imagery. As the poem deals with war and death, as suspected, the mood would be somber and sorrowful. In fact, "lament" is what a person or people do to mourn or grieve.
In Clarke's poem, her lament is for all of the elements of the regions of the world that were being damaged or destroyed. Clarke herself describes her use of the word "for" at the start of all the lines that show who or what her lament is for.
Some of the imagery is hard to forget.
For the ocean's lap with its mortal stain...
This line refers to the blood ("mortal stain") floating in the ocean's waters.
For the soldier in his uniform of fire...
This describes the picture of a soldier who was burned when his tank was bombed.
shadow on the sea...[and] ...in his funeral silk
...refer to the oil: it floats on the water, and the cormorant "in his funeral silk" references the damage the oil is doing to the wildlife after the bombing of oil wells.
For the burnt earth
...refers to land destroyed by bombing, and
the sun put out
...describes the smoke that seems to completely block out the sun.
Clarke's selection of words and phrases for the poem's images are very effective for supporting the poem's mood: funeral silk, uniform of fire, the sun put out, nest of sickness.
This poem draws the mind's eye to the landscape that surrounds soldiers and the warring countries' occupants everyday.
The haunting words of the verses created by Gillian Clarke make it difficult for people to be complacent about things that cannot be seen but are very real—things that should be very important to everyone.