“The Explosion” is a short poem of twenty-five lines made up of eight unrhymed tercets and a final, isolated one-line stanza. It is written in trochaic tetrameter with a number of metrical variations and substitutions. The speaker of the poem is an observer and commentator on the crucial event of the poem, an explosion at a mine. The language is clearly that of a speaker who is more highly educated than the working-class people that the poem represents. He is not involved in their lives but attempts to render their nature and experience as fully and truthfully as possible. The title of the poem announces the event and suggests its significance: It is “the” explosion rather than “an” explosion. The poem also begins with a description of the world surrounding the event. In the first tercet, the speaker describes how “On the day of the explosion/ Shadows pointed towards the pithead.” These “shadows” are an omen of the terrible event that is to follow, but they are balanced, to some degree, by the sun in which “the slagheap slept.” Both the sun and sleeping suggest the continuation of a peaceful world.
The next three tercets deal with the mine workers. They are defined as a group rather than singled out as individuals. Their “oath-edged talk and pipe-smoke” define them as men of the working class at ease with one another. One of them is more adventurous and active as he hunts some rabbits. The rabbits escape, but he finds a nest...
(The entire section is 528 words.)