My Commentary On “Tony Harrison poem, ‘A Cold Coming’,”

1. What is the poem about?
This poem is about the retreating Iraqi soldiers, who were then trapped and bombed by the USA along the “Highway Of Death”
2. How does the poet shock the reader?:

  1. Describes the corps of the body – how it’s all charred to the bone, barely recognisable as the person it used to be
  2. Gives the corps a voice “Isn’t it your sort of pets task to find words for this frightening mask? Id that gadget that you’ve got records words from such scorched vocal cords, press RECORD before some dog devours me mid-monologue.”
  3. The author tries to give some perspective tot he opposing side – get to see through their eyes
  4. The author points out the fact that despite teh army’s being on opposing sides, they have a lot in common. If the soldiers were able to see similarities between each individual, they would have been able to see that they are not so different from each other and their is no reason to fight.
  5. Describes the gruesome deaths, how many people died on the “Highway Of Death”
  6. Describes the dreams of men returning home to their families or starting families of their own being crushed
    1. Shoes the heartbreak of the soldiers families when they learn they died and will never return home

3. How does the poet think Iraqi soldiers have been treated?

  1. Shouldn’t have had to die like that – “the best of fates is not to be” a philosophy made bleak for any but an Ancient Greek, …..when you see men brought to such states who shouldn’t want that “best of fates”
  2. May have been better not to have been born to spare them the pain
  3. Fighting for what they believed in, valued life4.
  4. Fighting to stay alive to make it back to their families

4. Can you identify poetic techniques used?

Rhyme, Similes, Metaphors, Symbolism, Oxymoron?

5. What is the poet’s view of this war?

  1. All war does is bring death and destruction
  2. The men fighting on both sides are the same
    1. They are both fighting for what they believe in
    2. They both have families or want to start families
    3. Both trying to stay alive and go home

6. What is the poet’s overall message?
I believe the poets over all message is that war is pointless, all it does is pave the way for more death, destruction and pain. Not just for the soldiers, but for their families as well. If the soldiers had managed to see past the war, both sides would have been able to see that they are the same, despite the reasons for fighting being slightly different. They both have families, friends, both went to school, both fighting for what they believe in, both made mistakes. In other words, they are human. If they had managed to see past the reason for why the war started and completely accepted each other for who they are and what they believe in, they could have gotten along, and their would be no point of the war starting. This goes for all wars, not just the one in the photo.

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