The poem takes the form of five stanzas of six lines ending with a couplet. Each stanza takes the form of a complex sentence.
The poet has created a rhythm by alternating long and short lines. For example:
on the sand which was so comfortable/easy and kindly
This is a sombre poem, tinged with regret and sadness throughout.
Autumn is associated with fruitfulness and harvest, here it brings death, as young men are cut down in battle.
Often the language suggests mourning and sadness -
soughing indicates a wild sighing or moaning sound, as if to reflect grief at death.
There is pathos in the description of the how they men lie in the sand:
as if they were waiting for a message
Is there a suggestion that there is something unfinished or unanswered about the men’s lives? We feel pity for the men lying exposed in the sand.
The use of
snore suggests they are asleep, which suggests both their vulnerability and their state of final peace.
The poet reflects on the devilish indifference of war, it is as if he cannot understand the reason for all this. Whatever his previous opinion of the morality of war, when faced with the physical reality he struggles to find any reason for it.