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The Humanity and the Inhumanity of War: The End and the Beginning - Essay Example

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Your Name Prof’s Name Date The Humanity and the Inhumanity of War: “The End of and the Beginning” by Wislawa Szymborska War is possibly the most wrenching of human experiences, and as such is a monumental part of poetic traditions, from Norse sagas to the laments of soldiers returning from the First World War…
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The Humanity and the Inhumanity of War: The End and the Beginning
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Download file to see previous pages Her poem speaks of war in subdued and lethargic tones, where the dominant emotion or feeling seems to simply be fatigue – emotional, spiritual and physical. Through her treatment of the consequences and causes of war Szymborska demonstrates how little those affected by war have to do with the fighting of war, and how poorly arguments for war stand up in the cold afterglow that exists after a conflict. The most poignant thing that is apparent upon reading “The End of the Beginning” is a removal of the mystical elements of the experience of war. It creates this through treating the consequences of war as something of a chore – incredibly real, incredibly tiring, but not possessing the same kind of emotional heat that actual combat contains. This sense of moroseness is entrenched from the very beginning of the poem, which tells the reader that “After every war / someone has to clean up” (Szymborska 1-2). Szymborska continues to use similarly household language throughout the rest of the poem, using words like “straighten … up” (4), rolling up sleeves (24), and recounting chores like “rehang[ing] a door” (16), or “glaz[ing] a window” (15). The work is “dull” (31) and not “photogenic” (17) – but it no way mystical. ...
The populace of a war torn region needs things to continue their life – they need their “railway stations” and their “bridges back” (23-4). This further emphasizes the common, non-mystical nature of war by tying the things that happen to it – like the destruction of infrastructure – to the reasons those things were originally built, to service the people who live near them. Similarly, the wreckage of war, so often portrayed in poetry as body parts, smoldering ruins and so on, are also made more every-day, more common, and thus more accessible. The rubble consists of “sofa springs / [and] shattered glass” (11-12), “scum and ashes” (10), with the only reference to the gore of war being “bloody rags” (12) – something that could describe the result of someone having a nose bleed as well as it could describe the wreckage of war. Szymborska consistently underscores the common, dreary, every day elements of war in an effort to make it seem less mystical, but also demonstrate its fundamental futility and pointlessness. Presumably, wars are fought to change things – someone wins, someone looses, a new or an old ideology is advocated or defended – democracy has been saved, or destroyed, and so on. But for people, who are affected by the wars, none of this makes very much difference – the effort is simply to return to the state of affairs that existed before – because war simply cannot and does not fundamentally change things for the average person. They wreak destruction, depart, and leave the people left behind cleaning up, as after a natural disaster such as a hurricane or an earthquake. This theme of war as natural disaster is further developed through a complete lack of mentioning the reasons for the war, and the people who fought it. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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