How is irony used to increase the impact of the poem "War is Kind"?

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jmj616 | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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"War is Kind," by Stephen Crane, is an ironic poem about the horrors of war.

The poem contains a number of gruesome images of war. Some of them are:

a) "your lover threw wild hands toward the sky

And the affrighted steed ran on alone"

b) "A field where a thousand corpses lie";

c) "your father tumbled in the yellow


Raged at his breast, gulped and died."

The poem also includes some disparaging comments about soldiers: the poet refers to the soldiers as "men who were born to drill and die," and as "little souls who thirst for fight."

Interspersed amongst these realistic and gruesome images and comments is an ironic refrain: "Do not weep, War is kind."  This is a classic and forceful use of irony, which is when an author says one thing and means the exact opposite.