Arms a nd the boy
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Arms a nd the Boy. By Wilfred Owen. The Poem. Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood; Blue with all malice, like a madman's flash; And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh. Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-heads

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Arms a nd the Boy

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Arms a nd the boy

Arms and the Boy

By Wilfred Owen


The poem

The Poem

Let the boy try along this bayonet-blade

How cold steel is, and keen with hunger of blood;

Blue with all malice, like a madman's flash;

And thinly drawn with famishing for flesh.

Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-heads

Which long to muzzle in the hearts of lads.

Or give him cartridges of fine zinc teeth,

Sharp with the sharpness of grief and death.

For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple.

There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple;

And God will grow no talons at his heels,

Nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.


The poem1

The Poem

  • The poem is made up of quatrains, the tone is shown in partial rhymes, or pararhymes which reveal the menace, the threat present in the first two stanzas. In the last stanza, I have the impression that there's mention of the devil "teeth, claws, antlers" I think that there is a reflection on how God is against the idea war, as God doesnt start a war, as it is man made.


The title

The Title

  • I think that the title has various meanings. One could be that it is a juxtapose, as "Arms" and "Boy" contrast. Basically, it could mean that weapons "arms" make the soldiers/men feel boys, as they do not wish to stay and suffer, but rather return to their families and "hide". Maybe it could mean that the boy is being manipulated by the weapons, as "Arms" comes first and it is unusual for a human to be written after a weapon. It would be more usual or frequent to say "The Boy and the Guns" or "Arms", although "Guns" is more of a childlike term.


First stanza

First Stanza

  • 1st stanza:

  • - Alliteration in the first line, in order to emphasize the bayonet as a deadly object "bayonet blade".

  • - There is the use of assonance in the second line, "steel" and "keen" which is a repetition of vowels in order to show the bayonet as person again.

  • -Blue in the third line is an interesting word, as it has two meanings in the same stanza. First of course there is the coldness of the blade and then the indecency f the tool.

  • -Third line again: simile when it says "like a madman's flash" again used to personify the bayonet, as Owen is saying that it attacks in a burst.

  • -Fourth line: Alliteration with the words "famishing" and "flesh" and "for" where we can see how the letter "F" brings out that the bayonet is hungry for flesh an blood, alluding again to the personification.

  • - Through the whole stanza, we can an approximation in the rhymes of the last word of each line, "blood" with "blade" and "flesh" with "flash".


Second stanza

Second Stanza

  • The second stanza:

  • -Lines 1 and 2: There is again a personification of the bullets, which could be portrayed as heads, which are personified in a way that they want to have affection with the child's heart. This personification is used to damage the innocence of the child and that he has become experienced.

  • -Line 1: alliteration "blind, blunt, bullet-heads"

  • -Third and Fourth line: Personification of the cartridges with teeth. This can be seen "sharp with the sharpness of grief and death". In this case, sharpness of the teeth shows the death they long to bring is fast and brief and that the grief is the injustice and a reason to resistance.

  • -Line 4: repetition of "sharp" which makes an alliteration.

  • In this stanza there is again an approximation of rhyme the last words of each line, with ""teeth" and "death" and "lads" and heads". This shows a recurrence of the last consonant sounds, called a consonance.


Third stanza

Third Stanza

  • Third Stanza:

  • -Shows the boy as innocent with the use of metaphors.

  • -First line: the word apple is used to symbolize innocence and it is a connotation which refers to the Bible.

  • -Third line: Alliteration with "God" and "grow" which brings out the word God.

  • -Last line: There is an alliteration again with the words "through" and "thickness.

  • - The last three lines show the boy again as an innocent figure as he has no claws like the Devil, nor at his feet or even horns in his head. This shows how the boy is not a reflection of the Devil.

  • The stanza again has an approximate rhyme "supple" and "apple" and "curls" and "heels".


The poem2

The Poem

  • The mood is dark and I felt Owen was really accusing the generals of the way these boys were lead into something not even a man was mature enough for.

  • Wilfred Owen writes this poem to protest against how the generals were desperate enough to send boys to war, and along the road, before finding death like many of them did, their only friend will be the weapon. The tone is solemn and serious and somber/ gloomy. We can notice that loss of innocence that the boy experiences with the words "nuzzle" and "stroke" which reinforces the affection of the boys towards the weapons, as they are like toys to him. Owen shows the youth that has been wasted during this horrendous war and in a way says that the weapon is the devil, and not the boy, and that even if he has killed, it is the weapon that has taken control of him, and that God will see the innocence in the boy and not punish him.


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