I need some help with analysing a poem by george orwell about an italian soldier. I need some ideas on what it means and techniques that arew used The Italian soldier shook my handBeside the...

I need some help with analysing a poem by george orwell about an italian soldier. I need some ideas on what it means and techniques that arew used

The Italian soldier shook my hand
Beside the guard-room table;
The strong hand and the subtle hand
Whose palms are only able

To meet within the sound of guns,
But oh! what peace I knew then
In gazing on his battered face
Purer than any woman’s!

For the flyblown words that make me spew
Still in his ears were holy,
And he was born knowing what I had learned
Out of books and slowly.

The treacherous guns had told their tale
And we both had bought it,
But my gold brick was made of gold —
Oh! who ever would have thought it?

Good luck go with you, Italian soldier!
But luck is not for the brave;
What would the world give back to you?
Always less than you gave.

Between the shadow and the ghost,
Between the white and the red,
Between the bullet and the lie,
Where would you hide your head?

For where is Manuel Gonzalez,
And where is Pedro Aguilar,
And where is Ramon Fenellosa?
The earthworms know where they are.

Your name and your deeds were forgotten
Before your bones were dry,
And the lie that slew you is buried
Under a deeper lie;

But the thing that I saw in your face
No power can disinherit:
No bomb that ever burst
Shatters the crystal spirit.

 

Asked on by ollen8er

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted on

When analyzing poetry - it is easier to look at techniques used first, then interpret how they are used to figure out the overall meaning of the poem.

A few preliminary questions you shoud answer are:

  1. what is the subject of the poem?
  2. what is the general tone? *this will help you figure out what the author is trying to say about his subject.

Then:

  1. Below, examine the bolded portions in depth.  These are figures of speech (similes, metaphors, personification).  Ask yourself what is being compared to what or what do you think these mean?  (Do this for each one.)
  2. "Translate" the meaning of each stanza in a sentence or two.  This should help you see the overall gist of the poem.  In this step - look for images that could be symbolic of a deeper meaning.

The Italian soldier shook my hand
Beside the guard-room table;
The strong hand and the subtle hand
Whose palms are only able

To meet within the sound of guns,
But oh! what peace I knew then
In gazing on his battered face
Purer than any woman’s
!

For the flyblown words that make me spew
Still in his ears were holy,
And he was born knowing what I had learned
Out of books and slowly.

The treacherous guns had told their tale
And we both had bought it,
But my gold brick was made of gold —
Oh! who ever would have thought it?

Good luck go with you, Italian soldier!
But luck is not for the brave;
What would the world give back to you?
Always less than you gave.

Between the shadow and the ghost,
Between the white and the red,
Between the bullet and the lie,
Where would you hide your head?

For where is Manuel Gonzalez,
And where is Pedro Aguilar,
And where is Ramon Fenellosa?
The earthworms know where they are.

Your name and your deeds were forgotten
Before your bones were dry,
And the lie that slew you is buried
Under a deeper lie
;

But the thing that I saw in your face
No power can disinherit:
No bomb that ever burst
Shatters the crystal spirit.

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