In addition to diction, Swanson utilizes symbolism to fulfill his purpose of depicting war as a destroyer of innocence. Swanson starts by establishing innocence through symbolism. Change to soldier. No inconsistency, fool. “[a simple soldier boy] whistled early with the lark” (4). Swanson uses the lark as a symbol of innocence. It brings freedom and the purity of spring to the mind of the reader. Similarly, symbolizes war and its destructive capabilities. “He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again. “(7). In this instance, Swanson uses the bullet to symbolize war. By this, Swanson shows the reader that war kills innocence and then goes further to say that it not only affects the individual, but spreads to everyone involved. Swanson uses diction to create a sense of innocence before contrasting it with darkness that eventually leads to the destruction of the innocence previously established. In the first stanza, Swanson uses simple, gentle language to express the soldiers innocence. L knew a simple soldier boy / Who grinned at life in empty joy, / Slept soundly through the lonesome dark, / And whistled early with the lark”(l -4). The use of simple words such as “simple” and “empty joy/’ create a fragile, almost peaceful and carefree illustration, as it is impossible to have simplicity without innocence. Even the use of “boy” creates a sense of innocence in that the word boy doesn’t just imply, but means there is an element of youth which, once again, implies innocence. Later in the second stanza, the words become dark revealing wars ability to destroy innocence. And whistled early with the lark. / In winter trenches, cowed and glum,” (4-5). Immediately, the innocence seen before is gone as seen in the contrasting SE of “winter’ appearing right after “lark”. The word lark has warm, happy connotations implying innocence, however, as a lark is a spring bird, the lark and its accompanying innocence is gone in the second stanza with the arrival of winter, a cold and depressing time along with the negative connotations of “glum”. Finally, in the third and final stanza innocence is completely lost. You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye / Who cheer when soldier lads march by, / Sneak home and pray you’ll never know / The hell where youth and laughter go” (9-12). The word “smug’ is placed at the very beginning to insure hat the reader understands that the cheering crowd is in fact further defenestration of innocence and an act of evil and destruction in upon itself. Throughout the poem, diction is used to emphasize the movement from innocence to the destruction of innocence at the hands of war.
A combination of Tone and form is also employed by Swanson to express war’s affect upon innocence. The tone of the first stanza helps to procure a sense of innocence. “l knew a simple soldier boy / Who grinned at life in empty joy, / Slept soundly through the lonesome dark, / And whistled early with the lark” (1-4). The poem rolled along in a light and breezy matter. He depicts the soldier boy as happy and unknowing Of the horrors to come; a willing participant of war.
It inspires a feeling of lightness in the reader. As soon as this lightness is established, Swanson destroys it. In the second stanza, he contrasts the first with a darker tone that exists without innocence. “In winter trenches, cowed and glum, / With crump’s and lice and lack of rum, / He put a bullet through his brain. / No one spoke of him again” (5-8). Using iambic tetrameter to lure the reader into a false sense of security, Swanson eliminates the innocence using a depressing tone that inspires despair.
Also, cleverly using consistent form, unwavering iambic tetrameter along with the AAA B, C, AD, E, FEE rhyme scheme, Swanson models soldiers in a war and, through use of the tone as a distinguishing factor, shows the downfall and eventual annihilation that war causes. Please insert clincher. Caisson’s poem “Suicide in the Trenches” supports the common outlook upon war in early nineteenth century after World War One. Using diction, symbolism, and a combination of tone and structure, Swanson argues that war destroys innocence.