In the poem “The Conflict” C. Day Lewis describes being in the midst of human conflict. Since the beginning of mankind, conflicts have been a part of society no matter how big or small. An example of a big conflict is the way some Quebec citizens felt when they were voting in the referendum. A small conflict we might face is whether to buy a hamburger or a hot dog. A conflict is a struggle, a difference of ideas. Conflicts come in all different shapes, sizes, textures and complexities.
The feelings expressed at the beginning of the poem are those of solitude and grace. Almost like trying to keep our spirits up when a situation is pulling us down. And yet as pressure builds up, such as the precipitation in clouds, ‘ the storm-cocks sing ‘ to forewarn of the storm approaching. Before the thunder and lightning arrive, we feel peace when we are just ‘ outside the ring ‘ Like a child unaware of the complications his parents face in their relationship until they decided to separate or file for divorce. All of a sudden he is caught in the storm and looking for answers as to what caused this, in his perspective, sudden clash of ideas. Living ‘ between two massing powers ‘ often causes feelings of despair and loneliness where we just want to be alone and when bystanders such as family and friends who provide ‘neutrality’ try and comfort us we often push them away.
‘None such shall be left alive;’ goes to show that everyone loses in wars that are caused by mere disagreements. In all battles, even the innocent are harmed like when bullets are fired in the streets of a city, just for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, an innocent by-stander could be the receiver of a fatal bullet wound. And as the innocent are ‘ shot down ‘ it seems as though the ‘ private stars ‘ which we look up to to light up the dark areas of our lives start to fade. Hope starts to fade.
When help arrives after a deadly battle, ‘The red advance of life’ calls out in anticipation of possible survivors. And when there is no response it seems as if all that is heard is the clanging of swords and shields in the distance almost like the ghostly echo of war. What is left in the battered territory is a blanket of sheer overwhelming grief spread throughout.
The last stanza of the poem is telling us to move on with new hope from old devastation to new open and unharmed land. The place where ‘ we used to build and love ‘ is basically non-existent and if anyone can live there it is only the ghosts who have endured the harshness of the past warring. In simple terms, it is telling us to look towards a new light, find new stars to light up the night. And not to let old conflicts hold us back and prevent us from advancing through life.
No matter what the conflict we cannot be blinded by rough times that are inevitable facts of life. Everyone faces them. Whether it is one individual, a family, a group of friends, or a city or even a country, there will always be conflicting ideas.