How are the song "Soldier's Poem" and the song "Freedom Isn't Free" (by Faith N Kennedy) alike? How are they different?  

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The lyric text titled “Soldier’s Poem” and Faith N. Kennedy’s song titled “Freedom Isn’t Free” seem to involve more contrasts than similarities.  Among the contrasts are the following:

  • “Soldier’s Poem” is written from the perspective of a person actually serving in the military; “Freedom Isn’t Free” is written from the perspective of a civilian who appreciates people in the military.
  • The tone of “Soldier’s Poem” is bitter and disillusioned.  The tone of “Freedom Isn’t Free” is celebratory and patriotic. Although Kennedy’s song acknowledges repeatedly the deaths of many people in the armed services, the song expresses thanks for their sacrifices even while regretting that such sacrifices were necessary. “Soldier’s Poem,” in contrast, implies that deaths in war are often mere wastes of lives.
  • The tone of “Soldier’s Poem” is somewhat accusatory in the attitudes it expresses toward civilians. In contrast, “Freedom Isn’t Free” reminds civilians of their obligations to honor and respect those who serve.
  • “Soldier’s Poem” implies that the war the soldiers are fighting is without worth:

How could you send us so far away from home
When you know damn well that this is wrong

In contrast, “Freedom Isn’t Free” implies, by its very title, that wars are often necessary to preserve the liberty we tend to take for granted.

  • The conclusion of “Soldier’s Poem” asserts that “There’s no justice in this world.”  In contrast, “Freedom Isn’t Free,” by repeatedly reiterating its title as a refrain, implies that justice and freedom must be fought for and defended.
  • “Soldier’s Poem” emphasizes the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces; “Freedom Isn’t Free” emphasizes not only those sacrifices but the ones made by the loved ones of members of the military.

Some similarities between the two works, however, do exist and include the following:

  • Both works remind us of the sacrifices made by members of the armed forces.
  • Both works stress the ultimate sacrifice of death.
  • Both works implicitly and/or explicitly remind us of the need to respect – and not neglect – those who serve.

SOMETHING EXTRA: These two works invite attention from the perspective of "new historicist" criticism. While traditional historical criticism often tended to prevent simplified views of the past by assuming wide measures of agreement about basic issues, new historicist criticism tends to look for tensions, conflicts, and disagreement within the historical contexts it studies.  New historicism seeks to remind us that history -- both when it was lived and later when it is studied -- is almost always "contested" (that is, a matter of conflict and sometimes of negotiation). The two works discussed above show how differently war can be viewed in the same historical era.


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