The poem presents the poet's attitudes concerning war - the insignificance and unnecessary sacrifice - through the use of language, symbolism, imagery and rhyme.
In the first stanza, every sound in the first line is soft and quiet. We do not expect the first words to be 'softly and humbly' as the title of the poem suggests the men at war. The knowledge of the poem comes in the second line, although still it does not give an easy understandment as convoys of dead sailors come. In the next line 'sway and wander' suggests life so it neutralises the impact of 'dead' in the second line. The final line of the stanza then tells us that the sailors are dead and are rolled by the waves.
The second stanza has a change in sound and pace although it is still soft the series of short syllables make it faster.
The repetition of the letter 'b' breaks up the smooth flow of sound from the first stanza as the sound of the guns disturbs the peace on the beach. Although the violent sounds have been reduced to 'sob' and 'clubbing'. The second line is slow and allows time to think of the gunfire and the third line has a steadied rhythm with alliteration from 'bury' and 'burrows'. This may have an effect to the readers mind as the first line also emphasises with the letter 'b'. The impression we get is someone is dragging the dead soldiers and is burying them. In the last line of stanza two, the rhythm changes again to have a stamping sound.
In the third stanza, the words 'cross', 'driven', 'tide wood' and 'stake' stand out clearly to describe this particular event. The second line then implements 'signature' the identify of yourself...