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Help! Martin and the hand grenade
Posted by: SiennaRider (218.186.12.---)
Date: June 15, 2009 08:30AM

I wish to identify the poet's message in this poem and ask some other questions regarding this poem.

Martin displays the grenade,the class pauses
for history. With his father's bleak skill
Martin edges out the firing pin, indicates(POEM)

In this para, what does "with his father's bleak skill" mean? Why is it bleak? Does it mean his father knew only a little about edging out the firing pin hence we can infer his father was not part of the war?(QUESTION)

the chamber where the powder went; he fingers
the serrations, bristles with the shrapnel
possibilities. Questions. No--it had limited(POEM)

What are the "shrapnel possibilities"? And why is there a break between those two words which is supposed to be a phrase?(QUESTION)

[I skipped a stanza]

the small war, lifts it into the air
above the desk trenches: the dead weapon hurls
across mind fields, tears the heart ahead.(POEM)

Why did Foulcher use "above the desk trenches" instead of "above the desks"? Is it to create an imagery of a somewhat war scene in the classroom? What exactly does he mean by the words "mind fields"?(QUESTION)

I did put some thought into this but i think i need help to further dissect what the poet's message in this poem is by understanding the minute details and clarifying my doubts. Please help. Thank you.

Re: Help! Martin and the hand grenade
Posted by: IanAKB (124.168.23.---)
Date: June 22, 2009 09:18PM

"bleak" in the sense of wintry, i.e. not a skill that is of much use to enhance our sunny, peacetime lives. A soldier's skill to remove temporarily the firing pin from a grenade while holding the grenade tight in a way that stops it from exploding. Martin is imitating what he has seen his father do.

"shrapnel possibilities". When a grenade explodes, it blasts shrapnel, i.e. lethal fragments of its serrated metal casing, in all directions. That's the notional potential of the object under examination, even though the one brought to the class is actually disarmed, as you would expect, a "dead weapon".

Running the phrase across two lines is not unusual in poetry. It's a poetic device called enjambment, to make the words flow from one line to the next. It also makes the reader focus separately on each part of the phrase, which sometimes adds meaning.

I think your interpretation of "desk trenches" is correct. In my school days, the classroom could be a hotbed of feuds, which could break out into mayhem if the teacher left us alone for a while e.g. going to take a leak.

"mind fields" is a pun on wartime "mine fields". I think Foulcher is highlighting the potential for conflict in the attitudes of adolescent boys.

Hope this helps.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 06/22/2009 09:20PM by IanAKB.

Re: Help! Martin and the hand grenade
Posted by: SiennaRider (218.186.12.---)
Date: June 24, 2009 11:25PM

And what might be the message in the poem the poet is trying to convey to us? How does this vivid description of the hand grenade help in any way?
Thank you.

Re: Help! Martin and the hand grenade
Posted by: IanAKB (124.168.72.---)
Date: June 25, 2009 12:40PM

You had better post the whole poem if you want an answer that relates to the message of the whole poem.

Re: Help! Martin and the hand grenade
Posted by: ssupreme11 (110.38.34.---)
Date: September 19, 2011 06:45PM

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