For vengenace, and the ashes of language. (G. Clarke)

‘Lament’ is an elegy, an expression of grief. It can be a sad, military tune played on a bugle. The poem uses the title as the start of a list of lamented people, events, creatures and other things hurt in the war, so after the word ‘lament’, every verse, and 11 lines, begin with ‘for’.

The poem is about the Gulf War, which happened in 1991 when Iraq invaded Kuwait, and the United States, with Britain’s help, bombed Iraq. This war has never really stopped. As we begin a new school year, it still threatens the world.

War can’t be waged without grave damage to every aspect of life. All the details in the poem came from reports in the media. There were newspaper photographs of cormorants covered with oil – ‘in his funeral silk’. ‘The veil of iridescence on the sand’ and ‘the shadow on the sea’ show the spreading stain of oil from bombed oil wells. The burning oil seemed to put the sun out, and poisoned the land and the sea. The ‘boy fusilier who joined for the company,’ and ‘the farmer’s sons, in it for the music’, came from hearing radio interviews with their mothers. The creatures were listed by Friends of the Earth as being at risk of destruction by oil pollution, and ‘the soldier in his uniform of fire’ was a horrific photograph of a soldier burnt when his tank was bombed. The ashes of language are the death of truth during war.

These are the word of Gillian Clarke about her own poem: Lament.


1. Which thoughts, feelings, ideas, reflections come to your mind as you read what she has written?

2. Provide an extra stanza for this poem.


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21 Responses to For vengenace, and the ashes of language. (G. Clarke)

  1. Ivan Stankiewich says:

    1) Gillian Clarke, with this poem, wants to transmit all over the world the damage that war can cause. Clarke also wants to express the awful things that happened at the war.

    2) For the loss of cleaning water.
    For all the pollution and,
    For nature.

  2. Tomas Lucas says:

    1) What Gillian Clark tries to express with this poem is the damage of war to the world and also all the horrors that happen at a war.

    For the rising sun that I can’t see,
    For the dead soldiers that died for their countries,
    For the hurt animals that can’t live.

  3. alejo zubizarreta says:

    1. Which thoughts, feelings, ideas, reflections come to your mind as you read what she has written?
    This poem symbolizes the damage of war and how awful war can be and she does a very good job doing that. As I read what she wrote I could feel a connection to what she was trying to say because I also think war is a very sad and childish way to sovle problems.
    2. Provide an extra stanza for this poem
    For the loss of nature,
    The destruction of mankind
    and the death of civilization.

  4. 1. When I finished reading the explanation of the poem “Lament” by G. Clerk, I could understand this poem better, because she explained all the most important quotations of the poem, that maybe before, I could not understant well, or I thought another meaning for it. Also I think about her, being an innocent person, seeing all the badness of war and not having the possibility to do things better. I cannot understand how she could see all the newspapers or photographs that she saw, of people dying at war, and I think about all those innocent animals who were killed without any reason, because they did not do anything bad for humans. I really liked these words of the author, because she tells this sincerely, and tells us her feelings about this, or any war.
    For the innocent animals,
    who had to suffer death without participating in the cruel decisions of men.
    For the blameless people who suffered damage in their families.

  5. Serena Griffin says:

    1. Reading this text helped me to understand the meaning of the poem more, you can read that the poet actually used real information to write about. It also helped to realize how much damage the war caused, because all the poem says, is true, that created in me a feeling of anger, bacause all this polution, death, hunger, we begin all that and it made me wonder: why? why do we destroy ourselves and others? ; but it also gave me hope, hope that there are still people ready to keep fighting for peace.

    For pets without home
    The fish bones
    And the flowers and leaves burned
    By the fire they made

  6. Juana Miguens says:

    1. Gillian Clarke´s words about her poem “Lament” make me feel sad and disappointed, because the poem talks about the horrible things that happen at war, for example the destruction of Iraq in this case; the death and the suffering of people. I see Gillian´s anger because she can´t understand how human beings can kill for land or oil. I feel anguish also when I imagine the fear of mothers of losing their children, or of women of losing their husbands

  7. Guido Ciccone says:

    1)When I finished reading the poem I could imagine 2 feelings. Sadness and Anger.
    You can speak about Sadness because of all the families who were destroyed because of war, the mother that lost her son, all the animals in the sea who were killed without any reason.
    You can speak about anger because all the problems you have with someone you might not fix them with a war. The anger of all the people who love nature. Nature after the war will be destroyed. Nature without animals will not be nature.
    For all the countries devastated by the war
    For all the mothers who have recently lost their sons
    For all the nature which has been destroyed because of war

  8. Santi roldan says:

    the first thing which came to mi mind after reading the poem was Green peace, a person of green peace holding a hurt turtle , taking it back to the water. this made me feel sad for the turtle but hopeful about the whole picture.

    “for the good , for the bad
    for the seaguls and the bats.
    for the injured and for the dead
    for the ones still alive and for the earth.”

  9. Luisa Flores Piran says:

    For the lost soldiers,
    the polluted earth,
    for the missing lives, and the orphans.

  10. Violeta Balbiani says:

    1) When I finished reading the text about G. Clarke´s words, I felt sorry for those innocent animals who had to go through all those explosions caused by man, missiles and bombs that the man threw no matter the damage it was causing to nature and human beings. People who did not want to participate in any way in the war to avoid being hurt, however they were affected, this also happened to animals, Nature and the poor soldiers who just wanted to go to war to be part of something big without knowing this was causing much damage. The word ´Lament´ is referring to all these things I have just mentioned, the expression of grief and sorrow that Clarke tried to show us.

    For those minuscule creatures in the sand
    Nobody felt pity for them, their small space on the burnt Earth
    Was insignificant for Men´s explotions

  11. Eugenio Serra Cambaceres says:

    1) The first thing that came to my mind is How Gillian Clarke suffered by this war and I reflected on how humans can damage this planet in so many ways without even noticing.

    “For the destroyed families left behind
    and their hopes of peace left aside
    while they pray for their sons left to die.”

  12. Lucas Guglielmone says:

    1- As I read this, I can realize what the was poem about, the real sense that the author, Gillian Clarke, wanted to use in the poem. In my opionion this is a good way of understanding the poem but it’s really better if you interpret the whole poem.
    For that lonely widow and children
    That Are now without their men
    For that hero’s name at war
    That remembered will remain

  13. Isabella Carneiro says:

    1) When I finished reading this poem, the feelings which came to my mind were feelings connected with hatred, fierceness, fury because the human beings instead of communicating by talking generally prefer to choose the physical aggression which brings with it huge and horrible consequences, to the earth, nature, animals, and also, to us. That means that we harm ourselves.
    Also feelings of sorrow came to my mind, because, the consequences that are brought by the fury, are really sad ones, which generally end with death.

    For the innocent people who were damaged physically and also mentally
    due to the war
    For the dead people who rested through an unfair way
    due to the man’s ignorance.

  14. Luisa Flores Piran says:

    1) What first came to my mind while reading this text was how much damage people can make in world. We are our own killers, resorting to war or fighting will not solve things, they will get worse, it will polute the enviroment, kill many soldiers, kill animals, etc, and we resort to war not knowing much of these consequences.

  15. Mica Cardalda says:

    1)What I thought when I finished reading the poem for the first time, was, in general, the same I think now, that I have read the writer’s specific point of view. Immediatly I felt really sory for all the creatures named in the poem; they had been harmed by a pointless war. Not only living-things were damaged by it, the enviroment was poluted, and the sea aswell, as there was oil spilled in it. I liked knowing the reasons of Clarke of using certain images, for example, ‘the soldier in his uniform of fire’ was a horrific photograph of a soldier burnt when his tank was bombed. I realized that she was affected and touched by the war, she was informed, and, somehow, involved.

    For the inexperienced and the injured soldier
    For the wasted ruined land and the bloody ocean
    as smog darkens even more the sky

    For life that was silenced
    and the heroism of those who were most naiv
    as blood and oil remains spilled out

  16. Maria Paula Tear says:

    1) The first things that came to my mind, were that nowadays, the only solution that politicians resort to is WAR, and what in this poem she is trying to say is that it is not a good way to sort things out, because it brings a lot of bad consequences that affect the whole world, and it was only a war for a dispute between different politicians, maybe. The feeling that this text brings me is sorrow and pain. This may be the way in which the people that suffer the war felt. I think that the ways in which we can solve a dispute is by talking and discussing it, because if two or more countries go to war a lot of people suffer and there is no need to suffer, the people that died in the war, maybe, they had nothing to do with the problem the country was going through.

    For the military march heard by the innocent soldiers
    That suffer to serve their uncomprehended country
    For the lost living land

  17. Lucila Lafuente says:

    1) After reading this text, what first came to my mind is disappointment. Is really hard to discover, this way, how people , nature and the whole world suffers so much, for the simplre reason that us, humans do not know how to solve conflicts. Gillian Clarke it uses a very simple but interesting way of showing how each suffers. It represents the pain of each member of the world, by describing an image , and this makes the reader easier to feel what the other feels.

    2) For the woundness penguins lying on the sand,
    full of weakness and confusion.
    For the nature’s destruction.

  18. Pilar Olaizola says:

    1) When I finished reading this text, I realized that what Clarke was saying was exactly what I thought the first time I read the poem. After reading this little summary she made about the poem, I felt that what Clarke was saying was something that all of us had to take care. I also liked that she laments for EVERYTHING, animals, humans etc. She does not only cares about what can affect herself. I also stand out the part where she tells us that she knows we are capable of taking decisions, and I share her opinion because in my place I would say exactly what she thought, and I also would not understand how a human that has the posibility of knowing what if better for him or for the country and what not and even knowing this they go to fight for a stupid reason!
    2) For the nations been destroyed
    And the flags that were respresented
    For the countries that desire peace

  19. Olivia Arcuri says:

    1) As I read what Clarke wrote, feelings of disappointment and sadness came to my mind. Disappointment because humans have the advantage that we can communicate, yet we go to war to solve our disputes, harming millions of persons, animals, creating pollution and having to deal with the consequences that war brings to the countries (such as orphans, loss of territories, destruction, reparations payments, unemployment, anger, etc). Also, I feel sadness because people and animals who have nothing to do with war are affected by it. In addition, the fact that the poet uses real images and situations in her poem makes it easier for the reader to picture in his mind what the poet is talking about. The images help us understand, and everything that the poet wrote comes from real articles and pictures that she saw.
    For the never-ending anger
    And the dying men
    For the countries, people and animals hoping for peace

  20. Damasia Maffi says:

    1)When I finished reading the text, I realised that I think the same way as G. Clarke because I think that saying the truth using poerty as a tool, is very intelligent. This will attract people’s attention. After reading the text, I felt really upset because ,in my opinion, she knew that as we (humans) are capable of taking reasonable decisions, we could have taken a better choice rather than struggle with the “enemy”. She felt disappointed and so was I, but there was nothing she could do, she didn’t have the power to change the decision taken. The thing that angered me the most, is the fact that we have to resort to war to “solve” some problems, but at the end, it causes destruction. This war has never ended, “it still threatens the world.”
    For the dead ocean and for the agonising soldier,
    We experienced the death of our beloved,
    For our wishes to come true, to recover.

  21. 1) After reading this text the feelings that came to my mind were of sadness, anger and disappointment; sadness because I realised how people suffered and their point of view (for example of the writer) about war, anger because if the men that were involved in politics at that time and in those issues would have thought of other pacific solutions rather than resorting to war thay would have prevented the destruction of nature and the pain of all the dead soldiers and the people living in Iraq, and disappointment because we ,human beings, are capable of reasoning and thinking but instead of taking good and clever decisions, men damaged cultures, countries, nature and even the world as a whole.
    For Ahmed´s firends and sons
    For the songs and languages
    And hatred and sadness and revange

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