Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Where have all the flowers gone – Pete Seeger

The poem has five stanzas, eight lines each. The poet has followed the old question and answer technique employed by the ballad composers of the past. The 1st, 3rd and the 5th lines are questions. The poet answers the question in the 6th line. The answer is followed by a rhetorical question repeated in all five stanzas. The poet is moved by the senseless destruction brought on by war and our inability to break free from vicious cycle of violence. The last stanza provides an answer to the question asked in the first question. The girls have picked the flowers to lay on the graves of their loved ones who died in action. The poem has turned a full circle. This technique alludes to the never-ending nature of war. Like the flowers that would wither on the graves without bearing fruits most of the girls would be left spinsters and widows.

Where have all the graveyards gone?
Covered with flowers everyone

Through out human history numerous wars have been fought. Millions of young men have died. Millions have become handicapped. Others have suffered emotional scares. Wives have lost husbands. Children have lost fathers. Girls have lost the young men they loved. Immeasurable amounts of property have been destroyed. People have become homeless refugees. Cultures have lost their identity. But still people wage war all around the world even this very second. And there are people who glorify war. Idealistic men join the army and most of them don’t return alive. The ones who are left alive mourn their deaths. 

Where have all the soldiers gone?
Gone to graveyards everyone

This poem has a strong relevance to our war torn country. Every day many young men lose their lives. Politicians promote or demote war for their own benefit. So the war continues.
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

The poet uses the technique of repeated question, answer followed by another question. Repetitions make adds a musicality to the poem. The repetition alludes to the many wars. The entire poem contains a deep sense of melancholy. The poet feels a deep sadness that stems from his knowledge that despite the carnage of the wars waged in the past people would continue to wage wars in the future.

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