Conscientious Objector Poem

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Edna St. Vincent Millay’s “Conscientious Objector” convinces readers that the speaker’s cause is just and heroic by using references to great evils in history to increase the impact of her words on the audience. The poem constantly depicts the speaker’s acceptance of “Death” as an alternative to revealing information that would give away the security of another’s life. In the first stanza, Millay uses the imagery of Death riding a horse to show how her speaker refuses to assist Death in reaching its victims in places such as Cuba and the Balkans as mentioned in lines five and six, which at the time where places where corruption and death ran rampant. The speaker demonstrates their refusal to aid Death in this stanza by rejecting to help “him” mount his horse and leave to wreak his havoc on others. Stanza two switches to a different time period, Antebellum America, with Death pictured as a man hunting down a runaway slave, torturing the speaker in an attempt to extract information regarding the slave’s whereabouts. Like the first stanza, the speaker is resisting Death in order to preserve the lives of others, except stanza two’s imagery is a lot more brutal and far less passive. The third and final stanza is made up of the speaker’s denouncement of Death and proclamation of secrecy. The…show more content…
Unlike “Conscientious Objector”, “Flander’s Fields” is spoken from the point of view of dead soldiers. The soldiers want the people they have left behind to carry on in their absence and continue fighting the good fight. Although the message of this poem may be inspiring, it can be discounted because we have no knowledge of what the afterlife is like or what the dead may think. “Conscientious Objector” is the more inspiring poem because it is the tale of human courage against a seemingly unstoppable force, and sometimes a little courage is all people need in
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