Poet’s Use of Mockery As Diction in Poem
The poet’s use of mockery as diction conveys his disillusioned attitude
toward the men that plan the battles without actually fighting in them. Using
the words If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath, to describe the
majors allows the reader to picture the majors as old, fat, out of shape men
that spend their days guzzling and gulping in the best hotel safe from any
danger. Fierce, bald and short of breath give the reader a negative feel for
the majors as they are not described in any positive manner. These terms cause
the reader to feel disgust for the majors. The poets use of the words guzzling
and gulping with their alliterative effect cause the reader to consider the
majors as gluttons gathered at the table. When the reader completes his mental
picture of the majors in the best hotel, the imagery of glory hogs is complete.
The poet’s diction choice,
“Reading the Roll of Honor. ‘Poor young chap, ‘ I’d say – ‘ I used to
know his father well; Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.’ ” of casual
language attempts to make the war seem carefree and nonchalant. The word “chap”
conveys an casual attitude towards the heroes as people. It seems to elevate
the status of the majors to a false superior position. “Scrap” makes it seems as
if the soldier’s death occurred on a playground, not a battlefield. It seems to
trivialize war in general.
“And when the war is done and the youth stone dead,
I’d toddle safely home and die – in bed.”
The poet’s last lines give the reader an insight into the true wishes of the
soldier. The youth stone dead allow the reader to acknowledge the finality of
death and the wasted lives of the young soldiers while the old, fat men are
allowed the luxury of living to old age and then dying in their own beds.
“Toddle” is a word that not only describes the gait of the fat, old men but also
the irony of the youth stone dead and the fat, old men waddling home. Through
his use of mocking diction, the poet conveys his disgusted attitude towards the
toddling old men dying in their beds while the good die young.