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The Midnight Skaters

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'The Midnight Skaters' by Edmund Blunden. Blunden's 'The Midnight Skaters' begins by painting what seems at first to be a pleasant picture of an 'icy pond', a seemingly idyllic setting for a romantic poem, evoking images of happy skaters in a rural winter setting. As we read on, however, we are drawn deeper into the darker tones of the poem throughout each of the three stanzas and see that, far from being romantic, the underlying theme of the poem is a sense of impending danger. In the first stanza the sense of danger is perhaps less apparent that in the following two, yet the signs are there from as early as the second line - 'the icy pond lurks under' - where the use of the word lurks signifies a darker element to the poem than if Blunden had chosen to use, for example, the word lies in the same context. ...read more.


The couplet that follows is also indicative of the naivety of the skaters, and indeed the time - 'What wants he but to catch/Earths heedless sons and daughters?' - the skaters (representative here, conceivably, of young soldiers) seemingly oblivious to the danger that may well await them. These lines could also be said to be the very centre of the poem, as it is here that the speaker conveys the central theme of that impending danger, that death itself is waiting and watching, ready to take into his clutches one of these unaware skaters, and it is in these lines that the tone of the poem grows darker, which is carried throughout the rest of the second and third stanzas. We see at the end of the second stanza that the skaters are truly on thin ice - 'With but a crystal parapet/Between,' - and that dark force, be it danger or even death itself, waits with longing beneath for that 'crystal parapet' to give. ...read more.


The three stanzas of this poem represent different features of the dangerous theme at large, each drawing a parallel between the speakers view on the skaters and Blunden's view on the war. The opening stanza is representative of the naivety towards danger, of the skaters and perhaps Blunden's fellow soldiers, unable to 'fathom' the potential peril, whilst the second stanza shows the dawn of such a dark realisation and then in the third, the action and consequent victory of the skaters, or indeed the soldiers - as the skaters escaped death so too did the soldiers, by and large, by winning the war. And so as dark as the poem has seemed, we are left with a sense of triumph - as death has been faced and eluded. ?? ?? ?? ?? Louise Carrigan 1 Matric No: 0208788 English Literature 1A John Gardner ...read more.

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