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Commentary on Marilyn Krysl's Poem "Summer Solstice, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka"

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Introduction

Commentary Lim Kian Kiat The poem ?Summer Solstice, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka? talks about the very real yet unspoken emotions the soldiers face during the war. The tranquilizing but melancholic tone of the poem shows the yearning the soldiers have for a ?great loving?, and their weariness in fighting in the war. By writing in first person, Marilyn Krysl brings the cries of the soldiers to a personal level, as if the soldiers themselves are pleading for salvation. The title plays a crucial role in understanding the poem, since a summer solstice is the longest day in the year, therefore the title ?Summer Solstice, Batticaloa, Sri Lanka? directly translates to the longest day in the city of Batticaloa, Sri Lanka. ...read more.

Middle

On one hand, the complexity and ruthlessness of war, where soldiers are sent to their deaths. On the other, the ?soothing? nature of water, helping one forget one?s worries. The ?surf sounds like erasure? is polysemic. If one was to listen to a surf, it literally sounds like it is constantly whispering the word ?erasure?. It could also signify the persona?s want to be cleansed by the water, to forget the harshness of war, to ?become simple?. The juxtaposition of ?suicide? and ?soothing? on the same line further emphasizes the contrast between peace and war. ?suicide? is often associated with depression, yet ?soothing? is an adjective that means to have a calming effect. ...read more.

Conclusion

The sheer number of crabs shows just how many soldiers had gone to fight, many of whom will not return to their loved ones. The deaths of the soldiers do not just affect themselves, but also affects the family they leave behind. The persona, bitter from the war, let the ?ten thousand prayers? of the loved ones ?sweeten? him. The poet is trying to convey the futility of war, how the soldiers themselves did not want to partake in the bloodbath, how they just wanted a ?great loving?. In conclusion, the message the poet is trying to convey is the pointlessness of war. War steals away loved ones, and in the end the soldiers fight to kill themselves. Even the soldiers do not want to fight each other, the death of their enemies held no purpose to them, they just wanted an end to it. ...read more.

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