Introduction & Overview of The Conquerors by Phyllis McGinley

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The Conquerors Summary & Study Guide Description

The Conquerors Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains For Further Study on The Conquerors by Phyllis McGinley.

Phyllis McGinley's poem "The Conquerors," which was published in her Pulitzer Prize-winning collection Times Three in 1960, deals with a topic that she did not often write about. Known in her time as a suburban housewife poet and a writer of light verse, McGinley most often wrote about domestic topics, things that happened in the home, in the suburbs, things that happened, as she was to say, outside her window. The topic of "The Conquerors," however, influenced by the destruction caused by World War II, is the weapons that are employed in fighting and killing and massive and epic battles or wars.

McGinley, in the book The Writer Observed, describes the difference between her so-called light verse and the poems with more weighty material. In the book, she states that she has arrived at a distinction between the two: "the appeal of light verse is to the intellect and the appeal of serious verse is to the emotions." And so it is with this poem, "The Conquerors," that McGinley appeals more to the intellect than to the emotions when she asks readers to look at the absurdity of war. The main thrust of the poem is even more specific: she asks that Americans in particular, with their pride soaring over the creation of their newest weapon of destruction—the atom bomb—look within themselves to re-examine their conscience. In an attempt to bring the American consciousness out of its misguided use of scientific discovery and to inspire Americans to regain a sense of morality with regard to human life, she mocks those who might boast of killing masses of people with one small bomb. Her poem reminds Americans, or anyone who reads it, that there is nothing to be proud of in any kind of war. She does this in a deceivingly light tone, however, almost to the point of making her readers laugh. But this does not diminish the message. It is just McGinley's way of delivering it.

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This section contains 331 words
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Poetry for Students
The Conquerors from Poetry for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.