Douglas, Keith - Vergissmeinnicht
Three weeks gone and the combatants gone A
returning over the nightmare ground B
we found the place again, and found B
The soldier sprawling in the sun. A
The frowning barrel of his gun C
overshadowing. As we came on D
that day, he hit my tank with one C
like the entry of a demon. D
Look. Here in the gunpit spoil E
the dishonoured picture of his girl E
who has put: Steffi. Vergissmeinnicht. F
in a copybook gothic script. F
We see him almost with content, G
abased, and seeming to have paid H
and mocked at by his own equipment G
that’s hard and good when he’s decayed. H
But she would weep to see today I
how on his skin the swart flies move; J
the dust upon the paper eye I
and the burst stomach like a cave. J
who had one body and one heart. L
And death who had the soldier singled K
Has done the lover mortal hurt. L
This poem, written in 1943 by Keith Douglas, is about the feelings of a soldier who killed a man. In fact, at first the soldier is satisfied because he killed an enemy but then he understands he killed a man.
The poem is made up by 24 lines which are grouped into 6 stanzas. Each stanza has 4 lines that have an irregular length and are all aligned. Lines 1, 5, 9, 13, 17, 21 and 23 begin with a capital letter.
There is an irregular rhyme scheme (abba – cdcd – eeff – ghgh – ijij – klkl) and there are 2 consonances (ground – found, lines 2-3; lover – killer, line 21). There are many run-on-lines (lines 1-2-3-5-6-7-9-10-11-13-14-15-17-19-21-23) and some end-stopped lines like lines 4-8-12-16-18-20-22-24.
There are no similes, metaphors and personification but there are four repetitions (line 1 “gone”, line 3 “found”, lines 21-24 “lover” and line 22 “one”).
I really enjoy this poem because is so touching and because it’s very deep and impressive.