Draw a comparison between the poems After Blenheim and A Small Pain in My Chest on the basis of themes, poetic devices and background of the poems.
Michael Mack’s poem ‘A Small Pain in My Chest’ and Robert Southey’s ‘After Blenheim’ both are anti-war poems. But there is a difference in how the two poems dras out the pity of war. While ‘A Small Pain in My Chest’ is a depiction of a soldier boy’s feelings and emotions, ‘After Blenheim’ shows common people’s ignorance regarding war and its validity. While both the poems raise a war against the warmongers, Mack’s poem appeals to our heart but Southey’s poem appeals to our brain. While Michael chooses to gather public opinion against war through an emotional touch, Robert’s poem is a wake up call against the propagandists who befool the common people in believing in the greatness of war.
In the use of poetic devices both the poems share some similarities. Both use stanza division and a regular rhyme scheme. Both the poems use irony to emphasize the anti-war message of the poets. Moreover, both the poems have a refrain (repeating line) — ‘small pain in my chest’ and ’twas a famous victory’ respectively– that holds the key message.
As to the backgrounds, Small Pain in My Chest is a protest against war written after the Vietnam War, while After Blenheim is all about the destruction caused by the Battle of Blenheim. But, regardless of the backgrounds, both the poems are against war and thus similar in theme and message.