What is the poem 'On The March' about?

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gpane | College Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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This poem describes a journey along a long road, with no defined destination. It can be regarded as a literal journey, but it also appears as a metaphorical journey through life. It takes in changing seasons and landscapes but the end never really seems to be in sight.

The mood of the poem is rather forlorn, as the poet meditates on the unknown end of the journey:

Beat after beat falls sombre and dull.
The wind is unchanging, not one of us knows
What will be in the final lull
When we find the place where this dead road goes.

There is a sense of monotony here in the slow and regular meter: ‘beat after beat falls sombre and dull’. This mimics the weariness of the journey, and also the poet’s sense of foreboding. The surrounding landscape, too, appears rather gloomy, and the road itself is described here as ‘dead’. The sense of weary monotony is emphasized with the repeating of a similar line at the end of each stanza, referring to where this  ‘road goes’.  

 There seems to be little hope in this particular view on the journey of life, but all the same the poem expresses a sense of resolve, a certain determination to keep going, to keep on marching along – hence the title.

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