I Was Only Nineteen Sparknotes

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Modern war poetry is immensely valuable because of its ability to capture experiences that make an insightful and powerful connection with an audience. The bigger picture of war poetry is being able to share moments, feelings, and perspectives that connect with others. Wilfred Owen intimately conveys the horrific moments lived through young soldiers with his poem ‘Futility’ (1918) and shows how pointless and futile the war is, as he questions the creation of life if it can be so easily destroyed. The Australian folk group Redgum wrote the song ‘I Was Only Nineteen’ (1983) that focuses on the experiences of young soldiers in the conflicts of the Vietnam War, revealing the lasting impacts it had on them for the rest of their lives. These pieces offer the audiences raw and intense emotions of frustration, despair, and endless questioning about the …show more content…

Redgum uses a repeated rhetorical question: “And can you tell me, doctor, why I still can’t get to sleep?” to demonstrate the soldiers frustrations and the continuing issues of insomnia, PTSD, and existential despair after the events of the Vietnam War. Redgum continues to emphasise the impacts of the Vietnam War through the use of an understatement in: “I caught some pieces in my back that I didn’t even feel” to signify the numbing experiences lived through in the war, and the emotional and psychological toll they had on the soldiers. Redgum uses the anaphora of: “And” to start each line of the song’s second chorus to depict the overwhelming feelings and emotions felt by the soldiers over the period of the war. Thus, ‘I Was Only Nineteen’ illustrates the lasting effects that the Vietnam War had on the soldiers on the front line, and the impacts left on them for the rest of their

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