The poems Futility and Mametz Wood both deal with the grim subject of death on the battlefield, and how those who fell to this fate were often left where they fell - with their last moments captured in either their corpses soon after or the skeletons discovered long after the war had ended. Neither of the two peices deal directly with the moment of death, but rather reflection on the loss of young life. As death in battle is usually seen as a rather honourable fate, the language is respectful towards the soldiers and concentrates on the great sacrifice made by the soldiers, rather than the details of the battle itself.
The soldier in Futility is not referred to by any name – simply 'him'. This is suggestive of the lack of identity attributed to large amounts of the casualties of World War One (as there were millions of men killed in the conflict). The focus on this individual is also representative of the vast cases of those killed in action being left unburied on the battlefield. The sun is seen a 'giver of life' in this poem – possibly symbolising God, and the movement of the deceased soldier into the afterlife. His 'home' (where the sun “Always awoke him”) is mentioned in the poem – a place where he was comfortable and satisfied. The “whispering of fields unsown” signifies a young life with great potential being cut short – and the reality that he will not be returning back home to complete the rest of his life, as it has been lost in such meaningless conflict. The pace and rhythm of 'Futility' is slow and reflective, with commas and other punctual devices used regularly used to lengthen the time taken to read the verses, adding a sombre feel the text.
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