Verbal Irony In Stephen Crane's Poems

529 Words3 Pages
Stephen Crane’s poem, “Do Not Weep, Maiden, for War Is Kind” quite clearly speaks to the horror and grief of war, but does so in a roundabout way that comes across as sarcasm; in fact, it is exactly this heavy use of verbal irony that drives his message home to the reader. Verbal irony, put simply, is the use of words to deliberately convey the opposite of their direct or literal meanings. For example, the first stanza of Crane’s poem reads, “Do not weep, maiden, for war is kind. / Because your lover threw wild hands toward the sky / And the affrighted steed ran on alone, / Do not weep. / War is kind” (Crane 1-5). Here, the speaker is addressing a woman who has lost her lover in battle. Crane’s claim that war is kind and that the woman should…show more content…
/ War is kind,” to showcase the fact that war is ugly and painful not only for those who perish in it (the men whose deaths are described), but also for those who grieve because of it (the women whose lives are forever changed by war). Additionally, verbal irony can be found in stanzas two and four, in which Crane chooses words that, taken literally, speak of the glory of war in order to highlight the shame of it. For instance, Crane writes, “These men were born to drill and die / The unexplained glory flies above them / Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom – / A field where a thousand corpses lie” (Crane 8-11). Here Crane is stating that no man is born to simply drill and then die, regardless of what the rhetoric around the glorious battle may claim, and that such rhetoric (“Great is the battle-god, great, and his kingdom”) hides the true hideousness of war (“A field where a thousand corpses lie”). Overall, “Do Not Weep, Maiden, for War Is Kind” is an expression of Crane’s sadness over the glorification of war and death. He uses verbal irony in this poem by juxtaposing praise of war with reality, and succeeds in shedding light on the true nature of war that is fear, death, and
Open Document