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Civilian And Soldier. (Wole Soyinka, Poets of West Africa W/S))

My apparition rose from the fall of lead,
Declared, ' l am a civilian.'It only served
To aggravate your fright .For how could I
Have risen , a being of this world, in that hour
Of impartial death! And I thought also; nor is
Your quarrel of this world.

You stood still
For both eternities, and oh I heard the lesson
Of your training sessions, cautioning-
Scorch earth behind you , do not leave
A dubious neutral to the rear.Reiteration
Of my civilian quandary, borrowing earth
From the lead festival of your more eager
Worked the worse on your confusion, and when
You brought the gun to bear on me , and death
Twitched me gently in the eye , your plight
And all of you came clear to me.

I hope some day
Intent upon my trade of living , to be checked
In stride by your apparition In a trench,
Signalling, I am a soldier ,No hesitation then
But I shall shoot you clean and fair
With meat and bread, a gourd of wine
A bunch of breasts from either arm, and that
Lone question - do you friend, now, know
What it is all about?

Editing stage: 


Soyinka begins " Civilian And Soldier" with a confused and questioning tone from the civilian to a more accepting, understanding and empathizing tone as the civilian begins to understand the soldier's dilemma.The poem starts off with a confused tone because the civilian is trying to understand why his apparition has risen and why the soldier killed him in the first place.Then the poem shifts to understanding , accepting and empathizing because the civilian learns that in war soldiers are trained to kill anyone that deemed questionable and how they are taught never to leave a person behind alive.The civilian starts to sympathize with the soldier inner conflict.Soyinka is exposing through this poem how innocent civilians are killed by soldiers without a reasonable cause during war; while also sympathizes with the soldier's inner conflict of knowing that they have to kill but not why or what it accomplishes.Soyinka is shedding light on how pointless war is when the cause is unknown and exposing the human condition of completing actions without much thought as long as it comes from a higher power.

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author comment

Thank you Jess.

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