The Arsenal at Springfield Themes

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The theme that is most obvious in the poem from the beginning is war. Humans have been in countless wars in their history, and Longfellow samples some of these wars - from various points in humanity's past - to totally explore the brutality and horrors of war. When the poem starts, Longfellow introduces the arsenal at Springfield, which is quickly shown to resemble a ghastly type of musical organ. But this organ does not play an inspirational or spiritual "anthem." Instead, it offers a "wild and dreary" form of music, the music of brutality, suffering, and death. Longfellow describes the act of playing this organ - the guns - as if an evil force, a "death-angel" is playing "awful symphonies." When the poet starts to take the reader back "through the ages," he explains what forms some of these symphonies, invoking the Saxons, a Germanic race that -...

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This section contains 561 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Arsenal at Springfield Study Guide
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Poetry for Students
The Arsenal at Springfield from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.