Summary of The Gift in Wartime
The speaker of the poem, who is grieving the loss of her husband who has died in the war as a soldier, offers various gifts to him, including roses, a wedding gown, and her youth. In return, her husband gives her medals, the smell of blood, and his lips, arms, eyes, and motionless body. These exchanges suggest the ways in which both the speaker and her husband have lost something as a result of the war. The speaker speaks of her grief and the sacrifices that have been made during the war, and expresses a desire to meet her husband in the next life. The poem touches on themes of love, sacrifice, and loss, and uses figurative language, such as metaphor, personification, synecdoche, and hyperbole, to convey the speaker's emotions and experiences.
Understanding the text
Answer the following questions.
a. Who is the speaker addressing and why can that person not hear or understand what she is saying?
The speaker is addressing her husband. He cannot hear or understand what she is saying because he is dead.
b. What can you infer about the speaker’s feelings for the person addressed as “you”?
Based on the language and tone of the poem, it is clear that the speaker has strong feelings for the person addressed as "you." The speaker offers various gifts, including roses, a wedding gown, and their youth, and speaks of their shared experiences of love and youth. The speaker also expresses sadness and grief at the loss of the person and the sacrifices that have been made during the war.
c. What is the speaker’s attitude toward war?
It seems that the speaker has a negative attitude toward war. The speaker speaks of the losses and sacrifices that have occurred as a result of the war and implies that these losses are significant and deeply felt. The speaker also expresses a desire to meet the person addressed as "you" in the next life, suggesting a sense of longing and loss that may have been caused by the war.
d. In what ways do you think this person’s fate has affected the speaker?
The speaker has clearly been deeply affected by this person's death, as she express grief and offers various personal possessions as a sign of her love and devotion. The speaker's promise to meet the person in the next life also demonstrates the strong emotional bond and the deep connection she shared, as well as her desire to continue this relationship despite the challenges and losses she has faced. The speaker's willingness to make sacrifices and offer her youth and other possessions suggests that this person's fate has had a profound impact on her life.
e. What does the speaker promise at the end of the poem? Why do you think the speaker does this?
At the end of the poem, the speaker promises to meet the person addressed as "you" in the next life and to hold shrapnel as a token by which they will recognize each other. The speaker may make this promise as a way of expressing their love and commitment to the person, and as a way of expressing hope for a future reunion despite the challenges and losses they have faced in the present. The promise may also serve as a way for the speaker to find solace and hope in the face of loss and grief.
In reference to the Context
a. What is the theme of the poem?
One possible theme of the poem "The Gift in Wartime" could be the sacrifices and losses that occur during wartime. The speaker offers various things to the person being addressed, such as roses, a wedding gown, and their youth, while the person being addressed gives the speaker medals, the smell of blood, and their lips, arms, eyes, and motionless body. These exchanges suggest the ways in which the speaker and the person being addressed have both lost something as a result of the war. The poem also touches on themes of love, grief, and the desire for connection and reconciliation, as the speaker expresses a deep emotional bond with the person being addressed and a desire to meet them again in the next life.
b. What imagery from the poem made the greatest impression on you? Why?
One image from the poem that made a strong impression on me is the line "I offer you my wedding gown, To cover your tomb still green with grass." This image is particularly powerful because it conveys the speaker's sense of loss and grief, as well as their willingness to make a significant sacrifice by offering something that holds personal value and sentimental importance. The image of the wedding gown covering the tomb also adds a layer of poignancy and sadness, as it suggests the end of a relationship and the finality of death. Overall, this image is effective in conveying the speaker's strong emotions and the depth of their connection to the person being addressed.
c. Which figurative language is used in the poem? Explain with examples.
There are several examples of figurative language used in the poem "The Gift in Wartime."
Metaphor: A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance or analogy. An example of a metaphor in the poem is "I offer you my youth/The days we were still in love/My youth died away/When they told me the bad news." Here, the speaker uses the metaphor of their youth dying to describe the emotional impact of receiving the news of the person being addressed.
Personification: Personification is a figure of speech in which non-human objects or abstract ideas are given human characteristics. An example of personification in the poem is "I offer you clouds/That linger on my eyes on summer days." Here, the speaker personifies the clouds as lingering on their eyes, giving them the ability to have feelings and emotions.
Synecdoche: Synecdoche is a figure of speech in which a part of something is used to represent the whole or the whole is used to represent a part. An example of synecdoche in the poem is "You give me your lips with no smile/You give me your arms without tenderness." Here, the lips and arms are used to represent the person being addressed as a whole, and their lack of smile and tenderness suggests a lack of emotion or connection.
Hyperbole: Hyperbole is a figure of speech that uses exaggerated or extravagant language for emphasis or effect. An example of hyperbole in the poem is "I offer you cold winters/Amid my springtime of life." Here, the speaker uses hyperbole to exaggerate the harshness and impact of the cold winters, suggesting that they are a significant and overwhelming presence in the speaker's life.
The use of such figurative language adds depth and emotion to the poem and helps convey the speaker's feelings and experiences.
d. What does the speaker “offer” in this poem? What does the person address as “you” give in return?
In the poem "The Gift in Wartime," the speaker offers various things to the person being addressed. The speaker offers roses "buried in your new grave" and their wedding gown "to cover your tomb still green with grass." The speaker also offers their youth, "the days we were still in love," and clouds "that linger on my eyes on summer days" and cold winters "amid my springtime of life."
In return, the person being addressed gives the speaker medals "together with silver stars" and the yellow pips on their badge, as well as the smell of blood "from your war dress" and their lips, arms, eyes, and motionless body. These exchanges suggest the ways in which both the speaker and the person being addressed have lost something as a result of the war, and the poem touches on themes of love, sacrifice, and loss.
e. An apostrophe is a literary device in which a writer or speaker addresses an absent person or an abstract idea in such a way as if it were present and can understand. Discuss the poem in relation to apostrophes.
The poem "The Gift in Wartime" makes use of apostrophes, as the speaker addresses the person being addressed as "you" and speaks to them in a way that suggests they are present and able to understand. The speaker offers various gifts to the person being addressed, such as roses, a wedding gown, and their youth, and speaks of their shared experiences of love and youth. The speaker also expresses sadness and grief at the loss of the person and the sacrifices that have been made during the war, and speaks of their desire to meet the person in the next life. Through these exchanges, the speaker addresses the person as if they are present and able to comprehend their words, even though they may be absent or deceased.
Overall, the use of apostrophe in the poem adds a sense of intimacy and emotional depth to the speaker's words and helps convey the speaker's strong feelings for the person being addressed. The apostrophe also serves to create a sense of connection and continuity between the speaker and the person being addressed, even in the face of loss and separation.
Reference Beyond the Text
a. One way to get relief from grief is to write or talk about it. In your opinion, how might the speaker in this poem have benefitted from saying what she did? Explain.
In my opinion, the speaker in the poem "The Gift in Wartime" may have benefitted from expressing their grief and emotions through writing and speaking about them. One way that writing and talking about one's feelings can provide relief is by allowing the person to process and make sense of their emotions. By writing or speaking about their feelings, the speaker in the poem may have been able to better understand and come to terms with the loss they have experienced and the sacrifices that have been made.
Writing and speaking about one's emotions can also provide a sense of catharsis, or release of pent-up emotions, which can help alleviate feelings of grief and sadness. By expressing their feelings through the poem, the speaker may have been able to find some relief and comfort in the process.
Additionally, writing and speaking about one's emotions can help connect us to others and facilitate a sense of community and support. By sharing their experiences and emotions with others, the speaker in the poem may have been able to find some solace and comfort in knowing that they are not alone in their grief.
b. Write an essay on the effects of war.
War is a destructive and devastating force that has far-reaching effects on individuals, communities, and entire nations. While the immediate consequences of war, such as death and injury, are often the most visible and devastating, the long-term effects of war can be just as profound and enduring.
One of the most significant effects of war is the loss of human life. Wars often result in the deaths of large numbers of people, including soldiers and civilians. The loss of loved ones can have a profound impact on the families and communities of those who have been killed and can leave a lasting emotional and psychological scar.
In addition to the loss of life, war can also have a devastating effect on the physical and mental health of those who survive it. Soldiers who have been exposed to the stresses and dangers of war may experience post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and other mental health issues. Civilians who have experienced the horrors of war may also suffer from mental health problems, as well as physical injuries and disabilities.
War can also have significant economic consequences. The destruction of infrastructure, such as roads, buildings, and utilities, can disrupt and damage the economies of affected countries, leading to long-term economic hardship and poverty. The costs of war, including the expenses of military operations and the rebuilding of damaged areas, can also strain the resources of nations and contribute to economic instability.
In addition to these immediate effects, war can also have more subtle, long-term consequences. The psychological and emotional effects of war can last for years or even decades and can affect the relationships and well-being of those who have experienced it. The social and political consequences of war can also be significant, as conflicts can lead to the displacement of large numbers of people, the breakdown of social institutions, and the erosion of trust and stability within communities.
Overall, it is clear that war has a wide range of devastating effects, including loss of life, damage to physical and mental health, economic consequences, and long-term psychological and social impacts. While the desire for peace is often a driving force behind efforts to prevent or resolve conflicts, the toll of war on those who experience it serves as a reminder of the importance of finding non-violent solutions to conflicts. By striving for peace and seeking alternative ways to address and resolve conflicts, we can work to mitigate the destructive effects of war and create a more peaceful and stable world.