War drags men to the very edge, Where they must shut completely down All emotion, all caring, all feeling Just to survive the experience. Impervious to pain, suffering and death, They blankly assimilate war's horror And continue on as human shells Who have experienced too much death, Who have seen too much destruction, Old men in young boys bodies Who will never…be quite the same,
For they can never, ever Come all the way back… Some do not even try, War has destroyed their known world, Replacing it with the unknown. Where they have bottled up Reserved, suppressed, depressed Their survival secrets A whacked world stilted, tilted, That has completely turned over, It so hard just to hang on to.
Others, simply topple over the edge To remain there forever.
The poem War Trauma is a very detailed poem about the horrors that men see and how they react to it, it describes such horrors and makes war sound like the unpleasant burden it is.
The poem evokes intense emotion in the reader positioning them to identify with the soldiers at war. The negative tone of the poem, “Impervious to pain, suffering and death”, creates a somber mood causing the reader to reflect on the horrors of war. Metaphors are cleverly used to represent the immense mental pressure that soldiers face in the act of war, which is shown when the soldier’s mental health is compared to the physical act of falling off a cliff. The poem begins “War drags men to the very edge,” and it finishes on the last line as “Others, simply topple over the edge, to remain there forever.” These words show a dramatic realization that soldiers are not only victims of physical injury but that many also suffer mentally. Some never recover from such mental conflicts and this can be as distressing and damaging as physical death.
The poem is set in the Vietnam War describing specifically the front line of soldiers. It may have been written during the war (1962-1975) showing the writer’s belief that war is a horrible thing even after the war is passed.
The Vietnam War itself was a terrible war when being viewed from the society’s point of view because of propaganda. This propaganda made the war sound worse than it already was and put the Aussie soldiers in the bad books of many Australian citizens by using photos of dead Vietnam children and putting the blame on the wrong people. This poem would very easily join the side of the propaganda by showing the common public what the war did to the men who fought.