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Good evening everyone! I thank Alexa for addressing the musical juxtapositions of Owen’s poem, which I said that I was having trouble “hearing” in class last week. Initially, I thought that the opening of the poem dealt with “noise” and that line 5, with it’s negations, created a sense of “silence” – of a vacuum. The repeated double-t sounds of lines 1-4 with “cattle”, “stuttering”, “rattle”, and “patter” all contribute to the echoes of machine-gun fire; the reader has to spit out the syllables hastily, creating a sense of chaos that one may find on the battlefield. But then, I noticed the slowness of the sounds of the next few lines with the elongated “n” and “m” and long vowel sounds of “No mockeries now” and “Nor any voice of mourning,”. So it’s not quite the “silence” that I heard in my first reading, it’s more of a long pause, like a note left hanging in the air after a gong has been rung. And that pause, which Owen times perfectly with the end of line 6,”save the choirs, –“ hangs in the air, letting the reader wait for a moment with this artificial silence, before bombarding us again with the beginning of line 7, “The shrill, demented choirs of waiting shells;”. I keep going back to the clichéd scenes in war movies of a battle going off in full swing with all the guns and bombs going off at once, and then a shell explodes close to the protagonist and everything is silent and goes in slow motion for a few seconds before time catches up, and everything goes full speed ahead again. Silence amidst noise, a second feeling like an eternity. It’s amazing though, how Owen uses the tropes of sounds and silence to create that juxtaposition between long lapses and short moments of time, just with words on a page. Did anyone else notice anything like that? Best, Andrea

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