The Dumb Soldier

July 11, 2008

OK, let’s talk a look at this poem by Stevenson.

The Dumb Soldier by Robert Louis Stevenson
When the grass was closely mown,
Walking on the lawn alone,
In the turf a hole I found
And hid a soldier underground.

Spring and daisies came apace;
Grasses hid my hiding-place;
Grasses run like a green sea
O’er the lawn up to my knee.

Under grass alone he lies,
Looking up with leaden eyes,
Scarlet coat and pointed gun,
To the stars and to the sun.

When the grass is ripe like grain,
When the scythe is stoned again,
When the lawn is shaven clear,
Then my hole shall reappear.

I shall find him, never fear,
I shall find my grenadier;
But, for all that’s gone and come,
I shall find my soldier dumb.

He has lived, a little thing,
In the grassy woods of spring;
Done, if he could tell me true,
Just as I should like to do.

He has seen the starry hours
And the springing of the flowers;
And the fairy things that pass
In the forests of the grass.

In the silence he has heard
Talking bee and ladybird,
And the butterfly has flown
O’er him as he lay alone.

Not a word will he disclose,
Not a word of all he knows.
I must lay him on the shelf,
And make up the tale myself.

So what is so dumb about the soldier, because he lies in the grass and doesn’t seem to do anything all day long. Well that is not really the case, in fact, the soldier is dead. He is literally pushing up the flowers. So why does the narrator call the soldier dumb if it is not for just laying on the ground for a long time? Well the narrator is calling the soldier dumb because he is a soldier. The fact that he wasted his life and missed out on all the beauty that grows around him makes him dumb. That is the sad fact of being in a war. It destroys the world, and most importantly it destroys your ability to see the world.

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