The Field Mouse
The poem consists of three stanzas [stanza: A group of lines of poetry that make up a unit - like a paragraph in a piece of prose; a verse. ] of 9 lines each. The lines are of varying lengths, perhaps to reflect the freedom of the natural world - or the lack of order in the war-torn world.
Each stanza tells a different part of the story - the first gives the background about the hay making and the war, the second is about the death of the mouse, the third about Clarke's nightmare vision.
Think about how the language the poet uses helps to convey her ideas. Here are some points to consider:
"Summer in Europe"(line 16), the time of hay making for all farmers; yet in Wales they are hay making while in Bosnia they are fighting.
"we have crushed"(line 18). Is she emphasising that violence can be unintentional? Or does this mean that we are all guilty for war, too?
"inhabited by the saved"(line 20) - the animals that escaped the tractor. This makes us think of the human refugees who fled over the border to escape the Bosnian conflict. Think too about the word
"land"(lines 8 and 27): it refers both to the farmer's land where the hay is grown, and to land in the sense of a person's country, their 'fatherland' - the territory they fight over in a war.
"their bones brittle as mouse-ribs"(line 25), as if they were in a war situation with gunfire (line 26) all around. The neighbour who gave their land sweetness in the first stanza has become their enemy, ruining and wounding the land with stones (line 27) . In the Bosnian conflict, neighbours of different religions who had lived in peacefully together for generations turned against and murdered each other.
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