Analysis of Arms and the Boy by W Lawrance
Arms and the Boy Illuminated Poem
Lend him to stroke these blind, blunt bullet-leads, Which long to nuzzle in the hearts of lads, Or give him cartridges of fine zinc teeth Sharp with the sharpness of grief and death. For his teeth seem for laughing round an apple. There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple; And God will grow no talons at his heels, Nor antlers through the thickness of his curls.
Wilfred Owen: Poems Summary and Analysis of "Arms and the Boy"
The speaker says to let the boy feel the edge of the bayonet blade to know how cold steel is and how hungry for blood it is. He will see how it is a malicious shade of blue like a "madman's flash" and is hungry for flesh. The boy should stroke the blind bullets that desire nothing more than to bury themselves in the hearts of young men. He should hold the cartridges of the "fine zinc teeth" that are sharp with death and anguish. He should do these things because his teeth look ready to bite an apple, and there are no claws behind his fingernails. God will not give him talons or antlers in his curls.
It also illustrates how it is hungry with the craving for blood, reflecting its hideous tendencies that does not serve anything constructive. The war dehumanized men to their own likes. The association of men with weapons of destruction was as though they were initiated into perversion. The phrase also illustrates the lack of abundance of love that led one to the famishing for flesh. The speaker earlier associated them with the sharpness of instruments of War, and now with the bluntness of the same.
Outside my cottage window at Borage Lane children play soldiers so piercingly that I've moved into the attic, with only a skylight. It is a jolly Retreat. There I have tea and contemplate the inwardness of war, and behave in an owlish manner generally. One poem I have written there; and thought another. Johnny de la Touche whom he had tutored in Bordeaux leaves school this term, I hear, and goes to prepare for the Indian Army. He must be a creature of killable age by now. God so hated the world that He gave several millions of English-begotten sons, that whosoever believeth in them should not perish, but have a comfortable life.
He is considered as one of the most important English poet of the time of World War 1. Wilfred was killed during war at the age of twenty five and most of his poems were discovered and published after his death. At the age of enjoying his childhood, he is being told to handle guns and fire bullets. The poem is set in a training camp where young British boys are being taught to handle guns and bullets, they are being prepared to fight in a war. Viewed through a larger angle, the poem is set amongst the brutality and cruality of World War 1.