Analyze Faber's "The Eve of War."

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Consistent with the time period's literature, "The Eve of War" reflects the impending doom that Faber sees as so much a part of the war experience.  In stark contrast to the valorous and triumphant vision of war, Faber delves into the sense of dread and melancholy that are embedded parts of the war experience.  This can be seen in a couple of places in the poem. The poem's setting of the London night is reflective of dread and sadness.  London might be geographically removed from the center of fighting, but Faber suggests that it is not immune from it as "All the crowded plains grow dark."  The enveloping darkness is reflective of the war's condition, one that embraces nothing but dread and doom.  A sense of denial regarding this pain of being in the world is seen in how humanity appropriates its present condition:  "...Winks through the night, and every face shows stark/ And every cheek betrays its painted lie." As the second stanza details, Faber makes clear how the natural world is reflective of a condition of war that surrounds it:  But here through bending trees blows a great wind;/Through torn cloud-gaps the angry stars Look down."  The "wings of war" looms large over humanity, as it "hangs above our town."  The ending to the poem is one which all of humanity suffers, regardless of which side wins.

Faber's vision of war is consistent with the alienation that was so much a part of Modernism.  Advanced by the death and destruction of the war, Faber's vision of war is rendered.  It is one in which there can be no side that wins.  War becomes a population of those who have lost.  The physical and emotional losses mount, as well as the psychological trauma.  For Faber, this becomes the end products of war, something that is illuminated in "The Eve of War."

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