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The Not Dead

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by

Steph L

on 3 February 2015

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Transcript of The Not Dead

We are the not dead.
When we were young and fully alive for her,
we worshipped Britannia.
We the undersigned
put our names on the line for her.
From the day we were born we were loaded and primed for her.
Prepared as we were, though, to lie down and die for her,
we somehow survived.
So why did she cheat on us?
Didn’t we come running when she most needed us?
When tub-thumping preachers
and bullet-brained leaders
gave solemn oaths and stirring speeches
then fisted the air and pointed eastwards,
didn’t we turn our backs on our nearest and dearest?
From runways and slipways Britannia cheered us,
but returning home refused to meet us,
sent out a crowd of back-biting jeerers
and mealy-mouthed sneerers.
Two-timing, two-faced Britannia deceived us.

Neither happy and proud
with a bar-code of medals across the heart
nor laid in a box and draped in a flag,
we wander this no man’s land instead,
creatures of a different stripe – the awkward, unwanted, unlovable type –
haunted with fears and guilt,
wounded in spirit and mind.

So what shall we do with the not dead and all of his kind?
We are the not dead.
In battle, life would not say goodbye to us.
And crack-shot snipers seemed to turn a blind eye to us.
And even though guns and grenades let fly at us
we somehow survived.

The Not Dead
The Not Dead
The 'not' in the title, 'The Not Dead', shows that these men aren't even thought about as who they are, and instead what they aren't.

Starting the poem with the
pronoun "we" makes it seem
like the narrator is speaking for all people affected by war who survived.

Shows that it is
nothing short of a miracle that they survived, and they should be dead.
Disbelief
Alliteration puts emphasis on how much was going against them during the war
Not dead but not fully alive- stuck in a limbo state where they cannot find rest.
by Simon Armitage
Their entire identity,
as if they now aren't the same person they were before they went to war.
They were more prepared to die than to survive, as if they'd rather die than have to cope with living their life.
We are morbidly ill.
Soldiers with nothing but time to kill.
We idle now in everyday clothes and ordinary towns,
Blowing up, breaking down.
If we dive for cover or wake in a heap,
Britannia, from horseback, now crosses the street
or looks right through us.
We seem changed and ghostly to those who knew us.
The country which flew the red white and blue for us
now shows her true colours.
We are the not dead.


Rhetorical question, makes the audience feel as if they are directly being asked.
"She" gives Britain thoughts and feelings, as if it chose to abandon those in need.
They kept Britain safe, but they didn't get anything back.
Personification makes us take the side of the soldiers and feel hatred for Britain, just as the soldiers now do.
Not dead, but dying. They didn't manage to survive in the end, and there will never be a way to cure them after what has happened.
"From the day we were born we were loaded and primed for her." From Stanza 2. They will always be soldiers, every day is a war for them, and they can never go back to being ordinary people.
When they "blow up", they
break everyone around them too.
Not dead as they can't find rest,
and will always linger like ghosts. While they may not have physically died on the battlefield, they are dead inside.
Repetition, shows how this now sounds like a silly statement.
More ghostly imagery
Will never escape from the war, they feel alone and empty, where no plants can grow, nothing lives and nobody makes it out alive.
Just one more soldier manufactured on an endless assembly line just like all the others.
Stuck in "limbo" or a void
No longer humans
"So", a conjuction which sums up the entire poem and asks the reader to reflect on everything they've heard.
Very sudden and strange change from "we" making the not dead plural to the pronoun "his" making it singular.
Asking the entire audience
in one pronoun with a rhetorical question.
Summary
While the title of the poem is called "The Not Dead", and the phrase "We are the not dead" is repeated many times, it becomes clear over the course of the poem that these men certainly aren't alive either.

This is shown by:
"We are mortally ill"
"We seem changed and ghostly"
"We wander this no man's land instead"

And, a line in stanza 1 has changed meaning.
"And crack-shot snipers seemed to turn a blind eye to us."
At first it seemed like a miracle, like these soldiers were incredibly lucky. Now however, it shows that it was impossible for them to survive, and really they did die, albeit not physically.
This poem truly shows the futility of war.
Full transcript