Sample Student Outline for Oral Explication of “Recalling War”

The following is a sample student outline completed by Joshua Kisbye, a student of Dr. Van Nort’s.

Joshua Kisbye is a second year Cadet at the United States Air Force Academy, Colorado. In addition to being on the Superintendent’s list (indicates the top 10% in the Athletics, Military and Academics) he is on the speech and debate team. Joshua is originally from Clovis, California.


Recalling War

At first Robert Graves was a willing young man in the British army during World War I, but after a near fatal injury, he became an unequivocal voice against conflict. With 20 years perspective, Robert Graves recalls the harsh realities of war, and rejects the present British attitude of indifference to the First World War in the face of a growing sentiment for World War II.

  1. The structure and tenses of the stanzas create a lamenting for not remembering the costs of war and the sentiment of the young folk for the discord for the forgotten horrors of war.
    1. Present tense in the first stanza realizes the immediate realities in the aftermath of WWI; past tense shows the harsh realities of war; and future-past tense combination and repetition shows the terrible cycle of human warfare.
    2. The first stanzas are mature sentences and ideas while the last stanza is full of phrases that are unfinished, like the young men going off to fight.
    3. Dashes in stanza three, four and five demonstrate the limitation of language as the poet is unable to capture his ideas and lets the reader’s mind imagine the horrors of war.
  2. Conflicting diction and juxtaposition create a paradoxical situation for the young men who have yet to find out the true horrors of war.
    1. The “machine guns rattle” next to “toy-like” and “tin soldiers” create a horror of how the children view the war in their minds, despite its reality. Furthermore there is euphemism here, as the realities of war are not discussed in front of the children.
    2. In the second stanza, “protesting love and protesting logic” echo the “waived the mind” and are in conflict with the “inward scream” and “War was…”
    3. Synecdoche represents the countries with the “discord of the flag” that disagree with the “infection of the common sky.”
  3. The subliminal messaging of the poet fills the poem with anxiety and a feeling of being shell shocked and war conditions.
    1. The words at the end of the lines emphasize underlying tones in the poem and make the reader feel trapped in the poem and oppressed like the soldiers in the first stanza.
    2. Through visual imagery, Graves is asking the reader to summon these horrific images such as “one-armed man his jointed wooden arm.”
    3. Graves is showing the impact on the wider scale of civilization, such as “extinction of each happy art and faith.”


  1. What does the author mean by “to yet more boastful visions of despair?”
  2. What is the call to the reader at the end?
  3. Many poets argue against war, however humanity seems to repeat it. Is there any way to avoid war without another Munich? Does Graves propose a solution, or is he telling the British population to really consider the matter before it goes a step too far?

Return to Andrea Trocha-Van Nort’s article, “Reading Robert Graves’s ‘Recalling War’: Averting Future Conflict by Memorializing War.”