Come on, Come Back

Come on, Come Back

Come on, Come Back Stevie Smith Think Incident in a future war? The Cold War A nuclear arms race began after WW2 as superpowers in the East and West began testing powerful new weapons. The rising of the Iron Curtain intensified the threat of mass destruction and led

to the Nuclear Fear of the 1950s and 1960s Chemical Warfare... At the 1925 Geneva Conference the French suggested a protocol for the non-use of poisonous gases: "The use in war of asphyxiating, poisonous or other gases, and all of the analogous liquids, materials or devices, has been justly condemned by the general opinion of the civilised world." It was signed on 17th June, 1925.

9th August, 1961: US aircraft sprayed dioxinlaced Agent Orange over Kon Tum, Vietnam 22nd April, 1915: German army release 168 tons of chlorine gas over a 4 mile area of the front line. 16th March, 1988: Sadam Hussein orders multiple chemical agents (inc. mustard gas, hydrogen cyanide and nerve agents sarin, tabun and VX) to be dropped over the Kurdish town of Halabja, Iraqi Kurdistan Stevie Smith

The poet known as Stevie Smith was born in Yorkshire in 1902 and died of cancer in 1971. Her real name was Florence Margaret Smith and she was brought up by her feminist aunt after her mother became ill and her father deserted his family to go off to sea. Deceptively simple, her poems penetrate straight to the heart of life's greatest fears and anxieties. They are persistently dark and filled with 'deathwishfulness'. Stevie Smith was subject to periods of depression during her life and was preoccupied with death, seeing it as a release or consolation. Her poetry has strong underlying themes of love and death, it is whimsical but fiercely honest and direct. Incident in a future war

This is a strong metaphor when the tide goes out it leaves random objects stranded Left by the ebbing tide of battle This was a battleground in one of the Napoleonic On the field of Austerlitz wars The girl soldier Vaudevue sits Repetition Her fingers tap the ground, she is alone for emphasis At midnight in the moonlight she is sitting alone on a round flat stone. Alliteration This unusual combination if

her being a girl and a solider is unsettling it sounds like a contradiction emphasises the moonlight and creates an eerie setting The imaginary conference on killing suggests how seriously war is still taken in the future Graded by the Memel Conference first Of all human exterminators This is a chilling, clinical, impersonal word M.L.5. Has left her just alive

Only her memory is dead for evermore. She fears and cries, Ah me why am I here? Sitting alone on a round flat stone on a hummock there. A disturbing description of how shocked and traumatised she is Emphasises Vaudevues struggle and confusion The ground is difficult to Rising, staggering, over the ground she goeswalk over this Over the seeming miles of rutted meadow contrasts

with the To the margin of a lake sand at the The sand beneath her feet end of the stanza Is cold and damp and firm to the waves beat. The physical qualities of the sand contrast with Vaudevues vagueness Suggests sudden decision and movement This adjective is unexpected it makes the lake sound innocent and unappealing

Quickly - as a child, an idiot, as one without memory She strips her uniform off, strips, stands and plunges Into the icy waters of the adorable lake. On the surface of the water lies A smooth, peaceful image it sounds A ribbon of white moonlight tempting The waters on either side of the moony track This sounds Are black as her mind, unreal and dreamlike Her mind is as secret from her As the water on which she swims, Emphasises the As secret as profound as ominous. Ending the stanza with this word hints that something bad

will happen damage that has been done to Vaudevue she doesnt know whats happening or what shes doing. Repeating this word makes the sense of doom stronger Weeping bitterly for her ominous mind, her Personification plight, of the Up the river of white moonlight she swims undercurrent

adds to the Until a treacherous undercurrent surreal Seizing her in an icy-amorous embrace atmosphere The oxymoron adds to the Dives with her, swiftly severing eerie The waters which close above her head. atmosphere Alliteration emphasises the speed of what is happening. Theres a double meaning to severing the undercurrent cuts through the water and Alliteration emphasis

the time passing slowly An enemy sentinel Finding the abandoned clothes This is the Waits for the swimmers return title of a song (Come on, come back) Waiting, whiling away the hour Whittling a shepherds pipe from the hollow reeds. A strangely innocent image for a soldier waiting to kill someone There are no brackets

around the song title this time its as if the musics getting louder In the chill light of dawn Ring out the pipes wild notes Come on, come back. Enemies have some things in common Vaudevue In the swift and subtle currents close embrace Sleeps on, stirs not, hears not the familiar tune Favourite of all the troops of all the armies Its ironic that Vaudevue Favourite of Vaudevue sand the same song as

her enemy For she had sung it too Reminds the reader of Marching to Austerlitz, the beginning of the poem, when Vaudevue on,sadly come back. The Come poem ends Vaudevue wont come back because shes dead has just survived the battle

Form and Structure Form the line lengths are a mixture of short and long, which creates a rambling conversational feeling, and makes the story seem even more unpredictable. There is some random rhyme, half-rhyme and internal-rhyme which is sometimes unsettling because it is unexpected. It makes the reader confused, just like Vaudevue. Structure - The events in the poem are told in chronological order, starting just after Vaudevue flights in the battle at Austerlitz. The last three lines of the poem link back to the

battle, creating a circular effect Language Repetition Repeating the title song reminds the reader of all who have been lost, not just Vaudevue. Key words are also repeated to give the poem a cold, deathly feel. Surreal Language Strong descriptive images and personification create an eerie atmosphere. Past and Future There are several references to places associated with past wars. The references to war are both historic and futuristic, suggesting that war and its casualties

are universal and timeless. The Girl Soldier... What strikes you about that particular combination of words? Women and War: 'War is mad, crazy; and it makes you crazy as well. All you can think about is whether in a minute it will be your turn to die. (A survivor of the Rwanda massacre in 1994, when she was only 18) 'With tears in her eyes, she told me she had already died four times: that's the number

of times the guards had simulated her execution. On one occasion they had stood her against a wall, told her she was going to be shot, and fired blanks at her... As we talked, it was clear that something had indeed died in her. She was only 15, and I was filled with silent rage about her torments. (Iranian women accused of political offences) 'They threatened me with a knife, then held me down and raped me. I said to one of them, "How would you feel if someone treated your mother, sister or daughter like this? He hesitated, as if he no longer wanted to go on. Then he went to the door and asked if anyone else wanted to rape me. There was nobody, so they left. (A Croatian woman during the Bosnian war) 'I can't work, and I keep forgetting things. The doctor said it was traumatic epilepsy and explained that it was caused by the war. He told me that I had experienced many terrible things, that I should try to regain control of my life, but that it would be very

difficult. (A woman who as a teenager in the 1980s had fought in the civil war in El Salvador) CAN women fight on the front line? A former SAS officer and professional soldier: "A fact of life for a soldier is the necessity to kill at close range. This can require a degree of savagery far beyond most people's imagining, and it's uncivilised to expect young women to sink to such emotional depths....This state of mind going berserk in the old Viking sense - is not uncommon among fighting men in extreme circumstances (I've been overcome by it several times). Under its influence one loses all fear of death, becoming in

the process a completely barbaric and utterly merciless, atavistic killing machine." Interpreting the text: Imagery What extended metaphor is used in the poem? Structure Think about organisation of the poem. What do you notice?

Word Choice Stevie Smith's poems are filled with unexpected word choices. What examples of this can you find? Questions 1. How does the poet create a sense of mystery in the poem? 2. How does the title of the poem relate to the content? 3. Who finds Vaudevue's clothes? What

impression do you get of this character? 4. Which key words are repeated to give the poem a cold, deathly feel? 5. What do you think is the significance of the lake?

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