Discuss how Michael Mack has presented the theme of sacrifice in his poem Small Pain in My Chest.
Well, the poem ‘Small Pain in My Chest’ is an anti-war poem where the poet has tried to draw the readers’ attention to the folly of war and therefore arouse the pity of war. But Under the main message there are a number of themes mingled together. Theme of sacrifice is one, no doubt.
By presenting a soldier boy expressing his thoughts and feelings, the poet makes his point more trustworthy. It’s directly coming from a soldier who has fought a battle the previous night. He has no enmity with anyone on this earth. Still, he fought bravely and tried to do his best just from his sense of giving service for his country. Here’s what he says:
We fought all day and fought all night with scarcely any rest –
I kept firing at them, sir. I tried to do my best,
But we see he has no complain against anyone, not even any demand. He has done everything out of his sense of duty. We see him smiling all the time and showing his wound as a ‘small pain’ in his chest. He even thinks himself to be luckier than the others who had died before him.
I count myself more lucky than the rest –
They’re all gone while I just have a small pain in my chest.
The boy is worried about what his mother and wife would be thinking if they had seen him sitting there in that condition. It shows that a soldier is a human being just like anyone else. He also has relationships, feelings and emotions. That arouses the pity of war in the readers’ mind when the boy finally dies.
But this boy is only a representative of all those who had died in that war. It was a complete sacrifice of life for their country. Or at least, it was the ideology that they were taught. They did not go to fight out of any enmity, they did it out of their sense of bravery, ‘vim and jest’, protecting their country and sacrificing for the motherland. These are the romantic ideals regarding war that warmongers have carefully created for the soldiers.
But in reality, it is indeed sacrifice of lives that otherwise had huge potential to contribute to the nation’s cause, to some productive works that make a nation progress. But war takes away those lives for a wrong reason. All those lives are lost and spoiled. It’s a sacrifice more of a nation than for a nation.
In the poem, Small Pain in my Chest, Michael Mack has shown the agony of a soldier on the battlefield while expressing the theme of sacrifice.This poem is based on the prolonged struggle of the Vietnam War between 1955 and 1975. The soldier boy has been used as an idol of Sacrifice to portray the sacrifice made by the soldiers while fighting for their country which comes out of a sense of duty and bravery without having any grudge against anyone on the opposite side of the battle. The soldier boy says, “I must be getting old. I see the sun is shining bright and yet I am feeling cold.” and then he again repeats that he has a small pain in his chest. This clearly shows the love and spirit of sacrifice the soldier has within himself for his country that he does not consider that fatal injury as a small pain in his chest. He also said that he counted himself luckier than the rest who died on spot and he just sat down with the small pain in his chest. The soldier has also expressed his feelings towards his family. He says that her wife and mother would be very disappointed but the poet has written HERE in block letters. This has a special meaning that her mother will be proud that her son died while fighting for his country and also disappointed that her son died of a small pain in his chest. He showed his bravery till the end of the poem and his life when he eventually dies and the poet feels the soldiers small pain in the chest being pressed with his large one. This gives us the emotions of the poet on the sacrifice made by the soldier boy who died happily even after making such a huge sacrifice out of the sense of duty and responsibility. The poem overall portrays the theme of sacrifice which is made by the soldiers on the borders out of the sense of duty without any personal will to keep the country and it’s citizens safe.
#Sacrifice #SoldierBoy #MichealMack #SmallPaininmyChest #Respect