Death's Empowerment Over Life-Analysis of Louis Simpson's poem, Carentan O Carentan

Essay by MrsOrlandoBloomCollege, UndergraduateA+, April 2004

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Death is inevitable. It can come as unexpected as an ominous cloud amid a sunny day, or as sly as a cunning wolf stalking its midnight prey. Everyone experiences the power of death. It is the merciless force that takes life from life, and it's the one thing many of us fear. During time of war, death can't be overcome or avoided. For these reasons, it's evident that death is more powerful than life itself. In "Carentan O Carentan", by Louis Simpson, the theme of death overpowering life is evident through the use of imagery, tone and symbols.

The imagery in this poem exhibits how life is overshadowed by darkness. The first stanza gives the audience a harmonious impression. Simpson's first verse states: "Trees in the old days used to stand/And shape a shady lane/Where lovers wandered hand in hand/Who came from Carentan". This stanza characterizes life through two people enjoying a quiet afternoon walk through the park.

The image of the couple is soothing, and it portrays a powerful celebration of life. This passage clearly represents life before war due to the fact that often times the smallest and menial things in life are taken for granted. In times of war, what is most desired is for life to go about its normal course and to regain the simplicities of life. This image of love and merriment, however, is distorted by the second stanza where two soldiers march down the same path. Consider the words in this stanza: "Walking at combat-interval/Such trees we never knew". It is evident that the same trees where the lovers once walked are still there, but now they are obliterated from existence. The soldiers walking down this path are obliged to put aside all memories of the simple pleasures that...