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'Drummer Hodge' by Thomas Hardy describes the burial of an English soldier in the Boer War.

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'Drummer Hodge' by Thomas Hardy describes the burial of an English soldier in the Boer War. Drummers were usually the very youngest of soldiers and were considered to be too young to fight. This instantly sets a very sombre tone as the reader realises the soldier was very young when he died. The word 'Hodge' is used to describe him and was once used as a derogatory term for a farm labourer however Hardy means no disrespect as he has openly showed his admiration for countrymen. This term is merely one of many techniques used to emphasis how foreign the Drummer is. 'A Dead Boche' by Robert Graves describes an encounter with a dead "Boche"; the word boche was an offensive term for a German. These two poems are instantly different as one is written about a fellow Englishman whilst the other is written about an enemy. The first stanza in 'Drummer Hodge' shows the horror of the soldier's death and burial in a strange land: "They throw in Drummer Hodge, to rest Uncoffined - just as found His landmark is a kopje-crest" The ...read more.


Hardy also uses the foreign stars to highlight Hodge's alien grave, Hodge would have seen the constellations before his death but too rarely for him to know them. "Yet a portion of that unknown plain Will Hodge for ever be;" Hodge remains un-heroic throughout the poem and dies "unknown". However, despite his ignorance of the land that now surrounds him, Hodge's body will now be part of the veldt forever. His body will provide the nutrients to help grow "some Southern tree" which will eventually provide for the South Africans creating an irony that Hodge would have 'died for his country' yet buried in a strange land with no dignity and goes on to provide for the people he was fighting against. Graves' poem also leaves the protagonist as an unknown and un-heroic character. He never has a true identity but is just labelled a "boche"; one of many. Graves' description of the dead body is not at all positive, the words "stunk", "face a sodden green" and "big-bellied" all create a disgusting and ugly image of the soldier. ...read more.


Hardy makes it obvious that he realises the negative aspects of war however he still seems emotionally inspired by the war whereas Graves seems to have moved to a point beyond that. Graves expresses an indifference and immunity to the horrors as he describes the dead German in a cynical and matter-of-fact way. It could be seen that Hardy describes the death of the soldier in an idealised way. The imagery of stars and resting with the constellations over the soldier is aromantic and pleasant way to be. However his protagonist is a young boy who dies away from his home, who will forever be under a sky he doesn't know and will eventually go on to nourish the people he was fighting against. This seems to be very realistic and cynical. Graves describes the dead German with very simple and visual adjectives which instantly conjure up images in the reader's mind. His view of the dead soldier could be seen as realistic yet his tone, especially in the first stanza, suggests a cynicism that makes his poem seem traumatic. Rachel Underwood L50 ...read more.

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