Help with the poem "Lament" by Gillian Clarke.I don't get the second stanza of the poem "Lament" by Gillian Clarke; "For the cormorant in his funeral silk,   the veil of iridescence on the...

Help with the poem "Lament" by Gillian Clarke.

I don't get the second stanza of the poem "Lament" by Gillian Clarke;

"For the cormorant in his funeral silk,
   the veil of iridescence on the sand,
   the shadow on the sea"

Expert Answers
lynnebh eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This poem is a type of elegy, that is why it is entitled "Lament". It is a lament for war and each stanza outlines a particular thing or person that the author is lamenting because each thing or person alluded to or mentioned is a type of casualty of war. In this stanza, the lament is for the cormorant. A cormorant is a black bird that looks like someone dressed up for a funeral, hence the metaphor "funeral silk." There are many funerals because of wars, and the cormorant is an image, then, of death that results from war. A cormorant is a species very common to the Persian Gulf, and many believe this poem is a lament over the Persian Gulf War of the 1990s which, in a way, we are still engaged in. The veil on the sand continues the funeral image because people have been known to wear dark veils to funerals -- especially women. And the final line, "shadow on the sea" - is an image for the shadow of sadness brought on by war. War casts a dark shadow on the sea, spreads a veil on the sand and the cormorant arrives for this metaphoric funeral in his silk. Very dark.