The theme of conflict is a big role in these poems to understandinga deeper meaning. They can reproduce thoughts of self-pity, sadness and afeeling of hopelessness, this is shown in the different poems like ‘Mother in aRefugee Camp’, ‘Prayer before Birth’ and ‘War Photographer’. These three poemsall talk about mental conflict and the skirmish that goes on in your head andhow it damage’s your mentality. ‘Mother in a Refugee Camp’ talks about a motherwho is stuck in a formidable refugee camp trying to care for her son’sinevitable death. ‘Prayer before Birth’ talks about an unborn baby who ispraying to god for a ‘perfect’ life, or a life that is benign for him as-wellas his friends and family.
‘War Photographer’ talks about how a warphotographer is dealing with his emotions and dealing with the affliction hehas had to see other people endure. ‘The right Word’, ‘Who’s for the Game’ and ‘Dulceet decorum Est’ exemplify the physical conflict and how it’s like to be in theconflict first hand and what it can do to a human being, good or bad. I believethat the poem ‘Mother in a Refugee camp’ shows conflict in different ways, somephysical, and some mental. For example, the mother sees dead bodies scatteredacross the field of war, another obvious consequence of conflict, there’s alsophysical description of dying children, which creates a sense of emptiness anddesperation. As-well as this, life in a refugee camp is a conflict on its own,which sadly most lose. The mother is also trying to absorb every little detailabout her son because she wants to absorb as much of him as she can before heis no longer with her, this is also proven whenever she says ‘soon’, because ittells the audience that time is running out. The poem also ends on a very sadnote, ending with the word grave.
This just carries on the connotations ofdeath and despair that conflict brings. The word makes it more hard hitting toit however as the word ‘flower’ is used before as a positive word, and isquickly shut down by ‘grave’. Another mental conflict is that the mother isfighting against thoughts of her son dying and the inevitable end of his andher relationship, unlike all the other mothers who have given up hope andaccepted the fact that their children will die and they cannot save them, themother in the poem still has that little glimmer of hope.
Another thing is thatshe is constantly masking her fear and sadness, this is shown when she isputting on her ‘ghost smile’. Ghost also just presses on the fact that her sonis indeed dying and the ghost in the mothers pride also shows how she is closeto hitting a mental brick wall. Emotions are constantly fighting with her, fromher thinking about how they are going to survive the next week to who will dietoday? Thoughts always racing into her mind giving her a false sense of hope thatshe is in desperate need of. In ‘WarPhotographer’, the tone of the poem is one of depression and despair, thephotographer is in an emotional state of enmity with himself and operates in anemotional detachment in order to survive, for example, whenever he is in a darkroom the room itself acts as a metaphor for a dark place he was at recently, oreven the dark room that exists in his mind. All these thoughts in a constantemotional skirmish with each-other. Secondly, whenever he process’s an image,he is forced to look at them and face reality, this is shown in the text “Astrangers features faintly start to twist before his eyes, a half-formedghost”. This is obviously just the picture being processed, but the repugnanceof physical war has changed the photographer’s view of everything.
Thirdly, thepoem tries to convey the message of a depressed and somber tone. The poem istrying to get the audience despondent and against war and how it can mentallyand physically damage people, even if their just a photographer. It also showsthe dark side of war and how it affects everyone, again, using conflict to getyourself in a state of emulation with yourself to ask the question, is thisreally right? In the poem”Prayer before Birth”, Louis Mc Niece represents the theme of conflict throughhis poem by having the baby fight with its emotions of the real world and howhe could deal with them in different ways when he is born. He is in constantbattle with his thoughts to wondering how he can keep his family and of coursehimself safe, this is backed up in the poem when Mc Niece writes, “Let no theman who is beast or who thinks he is god come near me”, as he is afraid ofbeing emotionally and or physically hurt. “For the sins that in me the worldshall commit, my words when they speak me”, this is talking about how the babyis afraid in losing control, and how he is afraid he won’t be able to keepcontrol, his mentality his trying to overcome him with saying how he won’tsucceed or will never regain control if he loses it, so the unborn baby has tostay in constant conflict with its own mentality to overcome the pessimisticside of his thoughts.
However the baby is contradicting this fact by givinghimself false hope by saying things like “Let them not make me a stone and letthem not spill me.”, the unborn baby is just saying to himself how he’s goingto be a perfectly normal human being, trying to make himself think that he isgoing to be ok, while on the other hand, his pessimistic mentality is tellinghim how he is going to be with bad people and become one himself or that he’sgoing to be mishandled etc. In the poem”The right Word”, the poem is purely about perception and the idea thatconflict can create in different peoples mind. Obviously this poem conveysconflict in its mental form, changing people’s perception of terrorists andwho’s bad and who’s good, this is backed up by the poem when it says, “One wordfor you, outside my door, his hand too steady, his eyes to hard, is a boy wholooks like your son, too”.
This implies that it could be anyone and in fact isa human like your son for example, the war has people distraught and having toconstantly ask, who’s the good guy? The whole poem has a plot twist, thinkingthat there would be a noble fighter or terrorist at the end, was only a child,telling us how conflict affects not only the men, but the children. War doesn’tjust affect the fighters but also the people caught in it, showing the physicalconflict and how unfair it is. The poem”Dulce Decorum Est” translates from Latin into “It is sweet and proper.” Thisis a sardonic title which actually means that the conflict of war involvesdeath, pain and suffering. In the 4th stanza, it shows how somepeople glorify war and give medals to the hero’s, however, Owen wants thereader to think about those who do not come back and die a no hero’s death.
Allof this is showing the huge negative side that war gives off that has no mercy.The memory of when his teammate dies of the gas prompts shows some bitteradvice to readers about the nature of warfare and the outcome of ‘blindpatriotism’. The poem mostly focus’s on the physical impact of war and how itrepresents it however, it also gives the idea of what it can do to a personmentally, again showing the results of war in a different way. The poem’Who’s for the game’ has a very joyful light tone because its portraying war asa game as seen in the title, and with the connotations of this metaphor, it impliesthat war is simple and non futile, as it for ‘fun’ and it was written like thatbecause it was actually propaganda poetry trying to enlist young soldiers. Soit was trying to portray conflict in a positive way, which is the completeopposite to the other WWI poem, ‘Dulce Decorum Est’, where that poem talk abouthow gruesome it is etc.
It wants to push the fact that war is a good thing, andit wants people to see it as a game and not something to be afraid of, but totrust in.