Drummers were usually the very youngest of soldiers and were
considered to be too young to fight. This instantly sets a very sombre
tone as the reader realises the soldier was very young when he died.
The word 'Hodge' is used to describe him and was once used as a
derogatory term for a farm labourer however Hardy means no disrespect
as he has openly showed his admiration for countrymen. This term is
merely one of many techniques used to emphasis how foreign the Drummer
'A Dead Boche' by Robert Graves describes an encounter with a dead
"Boche"; the word boche was an offensive term for a German. These two
poems are instantly different as one is written about a fellow
Englishman whilst the other is written about an enemy.
The first stanza in 'Drummer Hodge' shows the horror of the soldier's
death and burial in a strange land:
"They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest
Uncoffined - just as found
His landmark is a kopje-crest"
The word "throw" shows how disrespectful Hodge's burial is, he is not
lowered with dignity or given a proper military burial as he should be
entitled to. He is not even placed in a coffin and is buried "just as
found" making him sound more like an object than a person. The
Afrikaans words "kopje-crest" and "veldt" emphasise the foreignness of
Hodge's resting place, which is also highlighted again by the
reference to the "foreign constellations" that will rise nightly over
his grave. Graves' poem contrasts with this as it focuses more on how
the German visually looks and doesn't evoke the emotional feeling that
is brought about by the alienation in Hardy's poem. Gr...
... middle of paper ...
and immunity to the horrors as he describes the dead German in a
cynical and matter-of-fact way.
It could be seen that Hardy describes the death of the soldier in an
idealised way. The imagery of stars and resting with the
constellations over the soldier is aromantic and pleasant way to be.
However his protagonist is a young boy who dies away from his home,
who will forever be under a sky he doesn't know and will eventually go
on to nourish the people he was fighting against. This seems to be
very realistic and cynical. Graves describes the dead German with very
simple and visual adjectives which instantly conjure up images in the
reader's mind. His view of the dead soldier could be seen as realistic
yet his tone, especially in the first stanza, suggests a cynicism that
makes his poem seem traumatic.
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