Randall Jarrell’s poem “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” and Cyril Tourneur’s poem “Epitaph on a Soldier” conveys contradicting realities associated with soldiers. When comparing the two poems, it is clear that both poets have vastly different views on the subject. Jarrel, in his poem, highlights the miserable and tragic lives of soldiers appeared in their fear and trepidation. On the other hand, Tourneur portrays a different side of soldiers life visible in their honor and eminence. Poets express contrasting views, Jarrel representing the darker picture of the war causing pain to soldiers, while Tourneur captures the glorious side of a war.
Both poems utilize poetic diction to build an ambient echo supporting the purpose of war with different views. Adoption of appropriate diction allows Jarrell to convey the frightening state of young men taking part in the war. The poet exhibits the effective choice of words that keeps which serves multiple purposes related to the young warriors. Poet relates childbirth with the ultimate death of soldier. Diction becomes most evident in the line, “from my mother’s sleep I fell into the state” (Jarrell). Diction shows he is cured into his ball turret, he fall into state since his birth. Jarrell exhibits satire in the line as he highlights the negative impacts of war on soldiers and their lives. Through explicit tone, the poet emphasizes on the miseries of the soldiers while transmitting the meaning of never ending struggles for the soldier. In epitaph, the author adopts a formal diction while associating death of soldiers with dignity and honor. A virtue of the poem expresses the nobility while peace builds relevance with tranquility and calmness. Effective choice of words conveys the message of greater virtue that soldiers attain due to their efforts and sacrifices. The diction becomes more visible as the poet mentions, “who died a young man yet departed old” (Tourneur). The word died a young man expresses the central thought. It also makes clear that the young warriors never protest for a living because they have accepted the miseries and ready to die. The tone expresses the bravery, courage, and passion of the soldiers. Effective diction allows poets to transmit the deeper meaning in an efficacious manner. Least artificial diction supports Jarrell’s satire and Tourneur’s simplistic tone.
By adopting contrasting imagery allow poets to reproduce the realities according to their personal viewpoints of war. Jarrell, in his poem, apprehends the harshness of the war revealing consequences through vivid imagery by assessing the miseries of the soldier. Allusion becomes visible when poet mentions, “six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life” (Jarrell). In this line, he displays bitter tone revealing the miserable fate of the soldiers. The tone conveys the panic associated with the practical consequences of war. Satire becomes most visible when poet mentions, “I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters” (Jarrell). A state represents the prospects of a warrior while froze reflects the trepidation by creating necessary settings sufficient for assessing the meaning of war. The settings transmit the feelings of confusion and bad fortune. The line include visual depiction of how soldiers survive with hopelessness because they know their ultimate destination is grave. The scene adds more clarity and makes the message readable. Compared to Jarrell, the imagery adopted by Tourneur represents different perspectives. Symbolism is also apparent throughout Jarrell’s poem. Black flack symbolizes the bad fortune of the soldiers eliminating every sign of hope and comfort. Nightmare fighters symbolize the warriors who engage themselves in endless battles and sees no end to it. Throughout their lives, they keep on fighting reflecting their miserable state. Washed me out symbolizes the end of soldier’s life depicting that they only moment that provides relief is of death. With his death, the fights, pain, and terror come to an end. In Epitaph, the poet emphasizes on tactile scenes to support his viewpoints. He designs a perfect image of bravery when he says, “ready still to drop into his grave” (Tourneur). The line conveys sensational tone demonstrating the lighter side of the war by communicating the feelings of passion and virtue that the soldiers experience in wars. These images transmit the meaning of pride, liberty, and glory by building a compelling idea of the soldier’s life filled with amazedness. Symbolism adds more vividness to the poem when ‘prepared to die’ symbolizes courage and bravery which reveals contradictory views by rejecting the idea of fear explained by Jarrell. Bravest blest decease symbolizes the strength of the warriors that differentiates him from other humans. The line also reflects that soldiers do not desire to run away from the war. Comparison of the imagery shows Jarrell creates weaker soldiers compared to Tourneur’s strong men. The imagery in Jarrell’s poem increases a sense of fear when poet describes the soldier’s death, while in contradiction to Tourneur’s excitements.
Jarrell employs figurative language to exhibit his pain while Tourneur displays ease. The poems adopt different figurative languages with Jarrell focusing on the adversities while Tourneur emphasizing on the glorious side of soldier’s life. In Jarrell’s poem similes and personifications enhance the meaning. Similes and metaphors are common elements of the poem. The inclusion of similes makes the poem more understandable. Metaphors appears throughout the poem, and the most visible metaphor; mother’s sleep that poet includes to build relevance with death. The speaker’s language reflects the victimized state of the gunner revealing the threatening circumstances of his life. The similes display disappointing tone “when I died, they washed me out of the turret with a hose” (Jarrell). The sadistic tone becomes visible when the line identifies the final destination of soldiers. The meaning of the line becomes clear when poet expresses the only relief in the life of a soldier is death. The tone remains one of the convincing tools in Jarrell’s poem thus adding more clarity. The figurative language constructed by Tourneur exhibits extreme differences while the metaphor expresses different meaning. The poet eliminates the idea of fatalities associated with the battles presenting opposing views. He transmits the idea of peace when he mentions, “he died in the war and yet he died in peace” (Tourneur). In the stanza the poet visualizes the role of war and how it influence the soldiers. The poem portrays deaths as glorious and peaceful. Compared to Jarrell’s poem, Epitaph ignores the darker side of soldiers life including violence, rage, and fear. Tourneur also incorporates metaphors in the poem to enhance the vividness. Ultimate death reflects the final destination of a warrior is grave and he knew that. Through metaphors, the poet expresses the deeper meaning of the poem leading to contradictory outcomes. Jarrell creates figurative language to get rid of his pain while Tourneur relates it to proclaim pride.
The syntax expresses an immense starting point when Jarrell conveys a complex meaning of war in contrast with the traditional ideas of Tourneur’s glory. The inclusion of syntax allows poets to concentrate on different aspects of the war in an orderly manner. Syntax remains one of the striking tools in Jarrell’s poem by conveying the theme in rhythmic manner. Through the appropriate use of words, the poet supports his perspectives. The rhyth, allows Jarrell to draw attention when he creates an effective tone apparent in, “and I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze”. The line conveys the meaning that the life of a soldier changes throughout when he leaves mother’s belly. The moment he leaves the belly, he misfortune starts following him to his death. The line supports the satiric tone of Jarrell revealing the harsh realities. Meaning of discomfort becomes apparent through hopelessness. Syntax appears in Epitaph, “and in all strength of youth that man can have”. The line adds more lucidity to the poems however both poets convey different meanings. Syntax permits Tourneur to generate certain feelings associated with particular events and is apparent in, “and living so though young deprived of breadth”. The line conveys a satiric and formal tone as it states that the soldiers live a life different from other young people. The meaning is clear that the soldiers lack a normal life reflecting their miseries. Both poets incorporate syntaxes to create reverse echo and reveal different facts related to the war. Syntaxes, the in-depth meaning of the poems, strong sentences allow Jarrell to argue against conventional viewpoint of Tourneur.
The comparison of the poems depicts that Jarrell and Tourneur utilize rhetoric tools differently thus allowing them to convey contradicting themes. Different tones, diction, and imagery illustrate different sides of the war. Through the effective choice of tone, diction, imagery, figurative language and syntax both poets represent different ideas associated with war. Jarrell uses an aggressive tone to uncover harsh realities replaced with Tourneur’s pleasant tone to express pleasant feelings of the soldiers. The purpose of using formal diction in Jarrell’s poem tries to convey the miseries and pain endured by soldiers. Tourneur’s diction involves the choice of words that support his beliefs of virtue and glory. Through figurative tone and syntaxes, the poets illustrate the realities of war and their views. Effective rhetoric choices allow poets to transmit in-depth meaning, building profound settings appropriate for supporting contradictory viewpoints.
Jarrell, Randall. The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner. 2018. <https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57860/the-death-of-the-ball-turret-gunner>.
Tourneur, Cyril. Epitaph on a Soldier. 2018. <https://www.poetrynook.com/poem/epitaph-soldier>.