Copy these notes into your folders…The man in the poem must be a traitor orrebel of the army. They have come to get him.His wife is concerned by their approach andasks him what the soldiers are doing. He triesto reassure her but there is evidence that he islying to her and hiding from them. He betrayshis wife by running away at the last minuteand leaving his wife to face the soldiers.
O what is that sound which so thrills the earDown in the valley drumming, drumming?Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,The soldiers coming.O what is that light I see flashing so clearOver the distance brightly, brightly?Only the sun on their weapons, dear,As they step lightly.Appeals to the sensesRepetition adds to rhythm – likemarchingQuestionsshow herconfusionand fear
O what are they doing with all that gear,What are they doing this morning, morning?Only their usual manoeuvres, dear,Or perhaps a warning.O why have they left the road down there,Why are they suddenly wheeling, wheeling?Perhaps a change in their orders, dear,Why are you kneeling?Soldiers are armed and organisedturningIs she trying to hide from them?
O havent they stopped for the doctors care,Havent they reined their horses, horses?Why, they are none of them wounded, dear,None of these forces.O is it the parson they want, with white hair,Is it the parson, is it, is it?No, they are passing his gateway, dear,Without a visit.First 2 lines of each verse = wifeSecond two lines of each verse =husband
O it must be the farmer that lives so near.It must be the farmer so cunning, so cunning?They have passed the farmyard already, dear,And now they are running.O where are you going? Stay with me here!Were the vows you swore deceiving, deceiving?No, I promised to love you, dear,But I must be leaving.Increases tension – they are getting closerHe seems happy to betray her love and try to escape
O its broken the lock and splintered the door,O its the gate where theyre turning, turning;Their boots are heavy on the floorAnd their eyes are burning.Shows the violence of the soldiers – what will they do to her?Seems threateningSuggests she faces aviolent ordeal
Links to other poems?• Violent conflict:Belfast Confetti, Our Sharpeville, Exposure• War:Exposure, The Drum, Belfast Confetti• Betrayal:Cousin Kate• Fear:Exposure, Parade’s End, Belfast Confetti
Exam style Questions…1. Explore how Auden builds tension, exploresrepercussions and expresses emotionsconnected with war. Use examples from thetexts to support your ideas.2. Compare how the writers of “O What is thatSound” and “The Drum” reflect on attitudestowards war. Use evidence from the poemsto support your answer.
1. Explore how Auden builds tension, explores repercussions andexpresses emotions connected with war. Use examples from thetexts to support your ideas.• Builds tension:Repetition, use of dialogue, regular rhyme andrhythm• Explores repercussions:Explain what is happening and why, use ofballad form to tell a story• Expresses emotions:Use of questions, repetition of “dear”, use ofdifferent senses
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