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    Poem explication – Life at War Essay

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    “War! ” It’s around us all the time. If we’re not at war then there is always some other country around the world that is. It’s all over movies and all over the news everyday. Almost always showing the same thing, violence and innocent lives being taken. There are many people that disagree with the idea of War. As I read the poem, “Life at War” by Levertov, I started to realize that she might be one of these people. Sometimes the images that people get from reading a poem can’t be found until they have read it many times. Then and only then does that person have a full and complete understanding of what they are reading.

    In the poem she talks about War and how it affects human life for the bad. The poem portrays the image that Levertov is against War and that mankind will never be able to live at peace because of War. The first reason why I believe that Levertov is against the idea of War is the way she speaks of Man. In the poem she can’t believe how man could do such things to one another. She can’t believe that such a sensitive being can do such harmful and hateful things to each other. She says, “… these acts are one to our own flesh”(964).

    By that she is saying that these acts of War that we as people “convince ourselves that it is necessary”(964) is actually done to our own flesh because we are killing people just like ourselves. People who have families, loved ones, and people who are living their lives to make a living for their families. She doesn’t understand how we as people can kill someone else who is so much like ourselves. Someone who laughs and cries just the way do. The second reason why I believe that she is against War is the way she speaks of war and how it has become a part of our lives in everything we do.

    She claims that “The disasters numb within us caught in the chest, rolling in the brain like pebbles”(963). By this she means that people have become numb to all the pain and suffering that go along with the acts of War. We as people don’t feel remorse for the people we kill at war. We think that we’re doing the right thing when we take that other persons life, but does that person even have anything to do with the reason why the war is being fought?

    Most often he’s just a person chosen to go off and die for his country. She goes on to say, “…our nerve filaments twitch with its presence day and night. Nothing we say has not the husky phlegm of it in the saying”(964). She is saying that everything we say and do carries the presence of War within it. People have almost become immune to it and have accepted such a horrid thing as a part of our lives. According to Levertov mankind will not be able to live at peace because of the presence of War around us all the time. She says, “nothing we do has the quickness, the sureness, the deep intelligence living at peace would have”(964).

    Her argument here is that we can never be at peace when there is the presence of War around us. In order for mankind to live at peace we would have to feel safe from the though of War. With the presence of War always there we can not be at peace in our minds and in the things we do everyday. We can’t get rid of War or just shut it out. It only goes away when the people of the world are at peace with each other. Its in our history, its here now in the present, and it will definitely be in our future for many years to come. After reading this poem over and over these images became clearer each time I read it.

    I began to see that she was indeed against the thought of War and possibly could have suffered from the things that were seen on the battlefield. Her arguments are strong and supported in her thoughts. The main images in the poem are that mankind has been corrupted by these images of War. Our world has accepted War as a part of their lives and believe it is a necessary thing to survive. Her take is different in that she thinks that War is not needed and wishes that the world could live at peace together without the fear and thought of War.

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    Poem explication – Life at War Essay. (2018, Jan 28). Retrieved from

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