In Flanders Fields and Other Poems Literary Elements

In Flanders Fields and Other Poems Literary Elements

Speaker or Narrator, and Point of View

'In Flanders Fields' is written in first person plural, from the collective perspective of the deceased soldiers. This is particularly effective, as it emphasizes the human impact of war. 'The Anxious Dead' is written by an omniscient narrator, and 'The Warrior' is written from the third person point of view of an unnamed soldier.

Form and Meter

The predominant metre is iambic pentameter (5 iambs in a bar), with the exception of 'In Flanders Fields', which is iambic tetrameter (4 iambs per bar).

Metaphors and Similes

There are a number of powerful metaphors. "To you we throw the torch" is a metaphor for the ANZAC Legend, the legacy passed down by the soldiers, as it represents guidance and protection. "He shared Almeida's scars" is a metaphor emphasizing the soldiers' intense physical and emotional pain. "The flickering lamp burns low" is also a metaphor for the soldiers' physical state, as they are nearing death.

Alliteration and Assonance

There is a lot of alliteration and assonance to give the poem pace and forward momentum. This can be seen in quotes such as "saw sunset glow", "we will onward till we win", "earth enwrapt in silence deep shall greet", "little lamp-lit room" and "weave wavering lines across the sky." These give the poems a system of internal rhyme. Sibilance also features heavily in the poems to create a sense of hostility, such as "smoke that stung."


It can be seen as ironic that poems of war and death contain numerous positive symbols, such as poppies, larks and lamps. At the same time, this indicates the skill of the poet in combining positive and negative images to create an emotionally gripping account of the events of and impact of war on individuals.


War poetry


Set during World War 1 in Flanders Fields, a battlefield in Belgium


The tone is predominantly optimistic, as it praises the soldiers' for their bravery and sacrifice. It is also sorrowful and intense, due to the nature of war poetry.

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protaganists are the ANZAC soldiers, while the unnamed antagonists are the opposing soldiers.

Major Conflict

The major conflict is the traumatic wartime experiences. These include stinging smoke, shot guns and shells, the death of fellow soldiers and the loss of loved ones. This is conveyed through the melancholic tone "Short days ago we lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow; loved and were loved, and now we lie."


The climax of the poems lies in the soldier's ability to pass on the metaphorical "torch" to the reader, ensuring he will be remembered after death. Furthermore, 'The Warrior' is deliberately open-ended and without a climax, as it ends with the soldier charging into battle and the reader unsure of the outcome. This creates suspense and empathy.


Quotes such as "the flickering lamp burns low" and "his little lap-lit room was bright with battle flame" foreshadow the tragic loss of life during the war, as well as the bravery and spirit of the soldiers.


Referring to World War I as a "quarrel with the foe" is an understatement, as it presents a major world war as a simple conflict. This is effective because it illustrates the injustice of war.


The poems are pull of religious and biblical allusions, such as the references to crosses, larks and lamps. These three images are used in the New Testament as symbols and images of hope and restoration, and are thus fitting allusions for a poem celebrating bravery. 'The Anxious Dead' also contains a historical allusion to Caesar, the famous Roman general and emperor.

Metonymy and Synecdoche

Numerous references to "guns" and "flashing muzzles" function as synecdoche, as they use an individual weapon to represent the institution of warfare and the impact of war on the individual. "Flailing hands" is also metonymy, as the hands represent the lives, goals and ambitions of the wounded soldiers.


The direct addresses "O guns, fall silent till the dead men hear" and "O flashing muzzles, pause" are examples of personification, as they give weapons human-like abilities. The quote "Tell them, O guns" further presents guns as capable of speech and reason.


References to legions and the military strength of Caesar have a hyperbolic function, as they emphasize the massive scope of the first World War.


The poems do not contain onomatopoeia, however, they use descriptive and sensory language to bring events to life.

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