Friday, 4 June 2010

Winter Warfare - Edgell Rickword

The poem is an extended metaphor concerning the effects of the bitter winter on the men in the trenches. In th epoem, the winter is personified as 'Colonel Cold' freezing everything at the front.
'Winter Warfare' consists of 5 quatrains, each a single sentence, with an ABCB rhyme scheme throughout. Each line has a monosyllabic ending preceded by iambic feet, thus emphasising particularly the last line of each stanza, reflecting a military march. This poem uses a deceptively jaunty rhythm to describe the torments inflicted on the troops.

Rickword's 'Colonel Cold' represents the cruelty with which the higher ranks treated lower ranks during WW1 in a metaphor for the suffereing they allowed through harsh winter months in the trenches. The nicknames 'Colonel Cold' and 'Hauptmann Kalte' are inhuman.

The sibilance of 'screaming steel' may symbolise the subtle forces of the upper class and higher ranks as they cause the destruction emphasised in the assonance of 'screaming steel' a harsh, violent sound, with the onomatopaeia in 'screaming', linking human suffereing in such violence.

The freezing weather applies to both sides equally. Men who watched with 'hoary eyes' depicts an image of ice and snow on their lashes. As they move together in 'No Man's Land', the name implies that this land does not belong to either side. The cold killed mercilessly those who were laying out there, men were unable to be rescued or to crawl to safety.

Please leave any comments or questions you may have. I will be happy to answer any.


  1. Happy to be reading this poem on ANZAC EVE in Australia, Victoria, Cororooke, 3254