primaflora asked in Arts & HumanitiesPoetry · 1 decade ago

vergissmeinnicht poem by keith douglas?

may someone please explain this poem. i know that "vergissmeinnicht" means "forget me not" in english and the the speaker is revisiting the battle scene that took place 3 weeks ago.

Three weeks gone and the combatants gone

returning over the nightmare ground

we found the place again, and found

the soldier sprawling in the sun.

The frowning barrel of his gun

overshadowing. As we came on

that day, he hit my tank with one

like the entry of a demon.

Look. Here in the gunpit spoil

the dishonoured picture of his girl

who has put: Steffi. Vergissmeinnicht.

in a copybook gothic script.

We see him almost with content,

abased, and seeming to have paid

and mocked at by his own equipment

that's hard and good when he's decayed.

But she would weep to see today

how on his skin the swart flies move;

the dust upon the paper eye

and the burst stomach like a cave.

For here the lover and killer are mingled

who had one body and one heart.

And death who had the soldier singled

has done the lover mortal hurt.

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  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    “Vergissmeinnicht” (translated “forget me not”) by Keith Douglas is a realistic poem outlining a soldier’s firsthand account of his return to the site of a fierce battle. Upon his arrival, “three weeks gone” (1) since the battle, he finds the deceased German adversary, simply known as “the soldier” (4), who had fired at his tank just before his demise. The poem stirs the emotions of the reader, utilizing specific descriptions of the scene and bringing the feelings of loss and despair felt by the woman, Steffi, who has lost her significant other into the mix. Through a varying rhyme scheme, stable yet altering structure, and vivid imagery, Douglas describes the conditions and brutality of war and how each soldier will be remembered by both lover and killer alike.

    Throughout the poem, the rhyme scheme is constantly changing from stanza to stanza, each involving end rhyme. In stanza one, Douglas rhymes the words “gone” and “sun” in lines one and four, and the words “ground” and “found” in lines two and three, thus giving the stanza an abba rhyme scheme. This differs with the following stanza which contains near, end rhymes of the word “gun” (5) in each of its lines. Moreover, each additional stanza is, at the least, a slight variance from the other stanzas. At first read, this makes the poem difficult to read. The first stanza causes the reader to anticipate the beginning rhyme scheme to stay somewhat similar as the poem progresses, so an alteration in the scheme is unexpected and causes the reader to misread the poem. The reason for these differences is not apparent until examining the poem’s content and its possible correlations to the rhyme scheme. Like the rhyme scheme, war is an unstable environment. The conditions are constantly changing and these changes, like this poem’s rhyme scheme, are unanticipated. Additionally, the reader, like many soldiers entering a theatre for the first time, starts off without knowing what to expect from the experience ahead of them; the differing rhyme schemes in the first two stanzas are not predicted. However, as the poem progresses, the reader becomes more and more prepared for these variances and prepares for the unexpected, just as the soldier knows what to expect.

  • zupan
    Lv 4
    4 years ago

    Keith Douglas Poems

  • Anonymous
    5 years ago

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    While respecting the opinions of others, I disagree with Cadenus' interpretation. I think the meaning is not nearly as simple as that! Douglas has characterized the dead soldier as having opposing facets to his personality; he is both lover and killer (which also happens to represent an internal conflict applicable to many). Although both aspects are now dead, the last stanza focuses on how conflict (war) extinguishes the softer side (lover). [By default, only the harsher side (killer) remains.]

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