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Transcript of Mametz Wood
by Owen Sheers
For years afterwards the farmers found them –
the wasted young, turning up under their plough blades
as they tended the land back into itself.
A chit of bone, the china plate of a shoulder blade,
the relic of a finger, the blown
and broken bird’s egg of a skull,
all mimicked now in flint, breaking blue in white
across this field where they were told to walk, not run,
towards the wood and its nesting machine guns.
And even now the earth stands sentinel,
reaching back into itself for reminders of what happened
like a wound working a foreign body to the surface of the skin.
This morning, twenty men buried in one long grave,
a broken mosaic of bone linked arm in arm,
their skeletons paused mid dance-macabre
in boots that outlasted them,
their socketed heads tilted back at an angle
and their jaws, those that have them, dropped open.
As if the notes they had sung
have only now, with this unearthing,
slipped from their absent tongues.
Each stanza in the poem is tercet (three lines long) although the line length varies.
The uneven length of the lines represents the 'chit of bone' and 'broken bird's egg' as it demonstrates the sharp, uneven edges.
The layout of the stanzas represent the verses and the chorus of a song. This is the song that we learn about in the last stanza.
Enjambment - 'mid dance macabre' shows how the dance is paused then carried on on the next line
Metaphor - 'broken birds egg of skull' shows how on the battle field nature and humans are one
Alliteration- 'farmers found' creates a calm atmosphere, juxtaposes the previous warfare that the poet is commenting on
Repetition - of the word 'broken'. Re iterates the fact that the men are dead
Simile -'like a wound working a foregin body to the surface of the skin'
Owen Sheers is a modern poet who writes
about fiction and non-fiction events.
He was born in Fiji in 1974, however he
was raised in Wales.
The poem is named after a battle in the Battle of the Somme that occurred in 1916.
He was inspired to write the poem after a visit to the Somme at which he saw twenty skeletons being dug up in the fields.
It was written in 2005
It is an encomium poem as Sheers devotes it to the young soldiers that died.
By Rachel and Claire
This poem does not have a rhyme scheme, but there are two pairs of rhyming words 'run' and 'guns' and 'sung' and 'tongues'.
Assonance and alliteration mean that the stanzas are linked by sounds.
The first stanza has soft 'farmers found' but the second stanza has a harsh b sound in 'blade', 'blown' and 'birds egg'.
imagery in the poem
This poem is full of imagery.
At the start of the poem we are presented with the image of farmers digging up bones. In the second and fourth stanza it relates to nature and how the bodies shouldn't be there.
Sheers main point is that there is no division between man and nature.
Attitudes and ideas in the poem
The style of writing highlights the injustice of war. 'The wasted young' refers to the soldiers who died innocently at a young age.
Towards the end of the poem the soldiers are given a voice through their songs.
This poem represents the consequences and the impacts of war rather than the action in a war.
From this poem we can see that the mark of war is still present decades after it happened.
conflict in the poem