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August 6, 2011

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The Message of “War”

Kurdishaspect.com - By Niga Ja& lal Wayne DeFehr

The poem “War written in1996” by Jalal Barzanji carries a strong anti-war message, suggesting that war is the cause of major devastation and tragedies that deprive people from living in peace and freedom.  This anti-war message is expressed in various ways throughout the short, yet moving poem by using basic elements of poetry. There are three main techniques used by Barzanji to convey the powerful message about the devastating consequences of war. In this essay I will focus on the narrative, symbols and tone used in the poem to effectively convey the anti-war message and its effects on people. 

War has been an ongoing issue that has received major publicity in our culture, and therefore, when writing about war, it is important for authors to make a connection with readers in order for their message to be heard or be taken seriously. The first person narrative used in the poem “War” allows the author to develop a sense of intimacy with the readers in order to effectively communicate his anti-war message. Readers are able to see through the eyes of the author what it is like to live in a war torn country, and the effect it has on the author’s every day life. For example Barzanji clearly attempts to help readers understand the complexity of living in a war zone by indicating:

Since my beginning, I have been embracedby the convexity of the cease-fire Since my beginning, I have been like a vanquished army sitting idly behind walls

Or, like a listening device waiting for another battle. (14-16) The above lines indicate the author’s grief about living a life that is in a constant state of battles and darkness that come as a result of war. His personal illustration of living in a war torn country allows readers to take a journey through the authors struggle, and understand the effects of war. Barzanji indicates that war has locked him inside  a fence with the gate shut behind him (13). War, in other words, deprives people from living a normal life, and instead results in people having to live a life that shuts the doors to freedom, as it has for him. 

Barzanji uses symbols to represent the state of war through various emotions; objects and actions. He indicates, “War is the record of atrocities” (10). When readers come across words such as records of atrocities as indicated in the poem, they can automatically reflect on past wars and its tragic history. He suggests that between one war and another, is buried flowers (11). The word buried represents death, and flower in many ways represents the innocence and beauty. Therefore, when both words are combined in one sentence, the readers can understand that war causes the death of innocence and beauty of life. Furthermore, the feelings of being startled in our sleeps, is one that is familiar to most readers, and therefore, they can automatically understand it when Barzanji indicates, “Between one ceasefire is another startled sleep” (12). Most importantly, war deprives people of education, of knowledge and the power to live a better life, and Barzanji brilliantly expresses that by stating “It was war that cast my book to the sea” (2). In other words, the book is a symbol of the way in which war does not only kill people, but it also kills knowledge and education. 

The tone of a poem gives readers an understanding to the author’s ideas, feelings or attitude towards the subject, and often, diction is used to support this tone. In this poem, readers can instantly understand the tone of the poem is not one of anger, but one that is filled with the author’s longing to put an end to war due to its tragic consequences.  Right from the beginning Barzanji states that war entails sadness when he explains “It was war that made my first morning sad” (1). Therefore, he does not begin with anger by putting blame on others, but states that war has had the power to deprive him of happiness. He further goes on to explain his feelings towards war by stating “It was war that drove me to despair/ it was war that made me useless” (6-7). The words despair and useless set the tone that is filled with resentment towards war because it has left him feeling useless and in a state of despair. He ends the poem with the same longing to end war by stating “I am tired,  I am tired of war/ War is without victories and defeat/Since my beginning, I have been wandering  from war to war” (18). These lines convey a sense of the exhaustion, futility, and resignation that the author feels towards wars. He refrains himself from setting an angry or vengeful tone, but instead, establishes a tone that helps readers feel sympathetic towards the author’s experience of having to live in a war zone.  “War”, successfully illustrates the complexities about living in a state of war through the use of narrative, symbols and tone. The first person narrative creates a relationship with the readers that ultimately result in interest about what it is like to live in a war zone. The symbols add a deeper meaning to the poem by helping readers understand the ways in which people living in war torn countries are deprived of freedom, education and peace. Lastly, the tone of the poem helps readers develop a sympathetic attitude to the author’s sadness and despair. The ways in which the author refrains from judgment and blame develops sympathy towards the author’s experience. Over all, the three techniques are uniquely used to convey the anti-war message and help readers develop an interest towards the tragic consequences of war. 

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