Lyrical “document” of the First World War (based on the poetry of H. Apolliner “The Stabbed Dove & the Fountain”) - Guillaume Apollinaire

Essays on literary works - 2023

Lyrical “document” of the First World War (based on the poetry of H. Apolliner “The Stabbed Dove & the Fountain”)
Guillaume Apollinaire

Researchers call H. Apolliner's poem "The Stabbed Dove & the Fountain" a literary monument of the First World War. The work was included in the second part of the collection "Calligrams. Poems of Peace and War", written under the impression of the First World War. In 1915, Apollinaire went to the front as a volunteer, where he received a severe wound in the head. After demobilization, he returns to Paris and continues active creative activity.

The work is built on the principle of antithesis: on the one hand, natural life - a dove, a watercourse, people, and on the other - blood and violence.

The poem "Slain Dove and Waterspout" is perceived not only as a lyrical work, but also as a lyrical "document" of the First World War. This impression is created thanks to the list of names of acquaintances and friends of the poet who suffered due to the war. Battle of Dalise Renal, De Braque de Max Jacob Deren, Kremnitz and others are those to whom the poet addresses with one question "where are you?". The lyrical hero of the poem knows about the death of some of his friends, the fate of others is unknown to him. Therefore, addressing them, he conveys not only his feelings of sorrow, but also recreates the mood of the generation that received the name "lost" in literature: confusion due to the loss of ideals and the inability to define new ones. Young men who did not return from the war believed in loud slogans that hid the terrible truth of war, the essence of which is bloodshed. But nothing can justify their death. Therefore, there is no attempt to romanticize the war in the work. The main feelings of the lyrical hero are sorrow and sympathy for the victims. The idea of the poem is a condemnation of war.

The images and symbols used by the poet help to reveal the main idea of the work.

The waterfall in the work represents the flow of tears shed for those who died on the battlefields. Oleander is a bright symbol. It is popularly considered a tree of war because it is poisonous and has blood-red flowers. Following the tradition, the poet used the image-symbol of oleanders in the same sense. Another image-symbol that reveals the depth of grief for the dead is a dove. Everyone knows Pablo Picasso's drawing, which depicts the dove of peace. The slaughtered dove symbolizes not only the peace lost with particular cruelty and barbarism, but also refers to the Christian tradition, which associates the dove with the Holy Spirit. Apollinaire believed that it was he who was dealt a terrible blow by the First World War. Even the sun—another image-symbol—is wounded. And this means that the damage caused by the war is universal and has a global scale.

By writing this poetry, Apollinaire was able to convey not only the terrible consequences of the war, but also the emotional state of his generation. But the lesson taught by this work applies to all generations.