Themes and Meanings

(Critical Guide to Poetry for Students)

“The Fury of Aerial Bombardment” deals with a single subject—war. The poet’s consciousness of death, seemingly senseless death, is the focus of the poem. The poem is short and compressed. The theme of death is a common one in Eberhart’s poetry, and a number of other poems address the particular issue of war.

The poet claims that “You would think the fury of aerial bombardment/ Would rouse God to relent.” “Rouse” is an interesting word, because it points to God’s indifference and to His design in creating humanity: Did He make humanity stupid? The topic of war and the theme of death are united in the inquiry that takes place. The poet makes it clear that “the infinite spaces are still silent.” Even the sight of “shock-pried faces” fails to move God to relent.

Stanza 2 moves to the world’s beginning. Humankind has possessed the will to kill since the days of Cain. Stanza 3 asks why this is so. All stanzas lead to the final lament, which is a recognition of the waste and futility of war.

This poem is one of a series of poems that deal with death and the senseless destruction of war. They reflect Eberhart’s assignments as a theoretical gunnery instructor in the naval reserve at Pensacola, Florida, and at Dam Neck, Virginia. The last three lines of a poem entitled “Dam Neck, Virginia” reiterate sentiments expressed in “The Fury of Aerial Bombardment”: “The truth of guns is fierce that aims at...

(The entire section is 483 words.)