No doubt they’ll soon get well; the shock and strain
A note: I stopped teaching CBSE 5 years ago and I'm out of touch. So I haven't really worked on the explanations and edited them. You might find some of the explanations not up to the mark especially this poem. You will surely find better explanations on the net. One such site recommended by one of the readers which is really good and tailor made for CBSE is http://englishportal12.blogspot.in/?view=mosaic
The poem begins by giving the reader the misleading hope that the shell-shocked soldiers would surely recover (the view of the non-combatant) and breaks this hope when he describes how the shock and strain of war have caused these soldiers to stammer and to talk incoherently. It would take them a long time to recover from this and not ‘soon’. Again the statement that they are ‘longing to go out again’ and fight (statement of politicians, probably) makes us imagine that the soldiers are raring to go out to the war front again and fight. This is again negated by describing the soldier’s faces as ‘old’ and ‘scared’ showing how war makes these courageous men old before their time and afraid. Also the words ‘they are learning to walk’ could literally mean recovering physically from battle wounds or metaphorically mean getting back to normal life recovering from the psychological scars that they have received.
Once again the reassuring statement that they will soon forget their haunted nights is contradicted by stating what haunts them in their sleep. Their sleep is filled with nightmares of the ghosts of friends who died in battle and the scenes of killing and blood in the battlefield. When they are haunted by these how can they ever ‘soon’ forget anything? Finally, the poet is ironic when he says that the soldiers will be proud of glorious war which not only shattered their pride in fighting for their country but shattered their individual selves.
The last two lines convey the total effect of war, that is, it turns men who went to war, glad and serious about fighting for their country, returning reduced to the level of helpless children. They are completely broken psychologically and almost insane. They are also filled with hatred for the supporters of war namely, the politicians and the non-combatants. Thus, using irony, the poem poignantly exposes the sham of war and its effects on the combatants.
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