The Beliefs of American Solider

War shows the soildeirs the death in different ways and that’s ,ake them think about every momoment in their life and its give impact on them for the rest of their life. “Thanks,” by Yusef Komunyakaa narrates a story of a man involved in the Vietnam war, who describes how various events there claimed his life. As a result, he appreciates different objects, arguing that they helped him not to be killed, and he never tripped over a landmine. The objects that this young man is appreciating can be interpreted as gratitude to the Almighty God, primarily because of providing such objects, or downright statements that portray lack of god/religious procedures in his life during the war.

The playwright makes statements about the Vietnam war and his beliefs. Therefore, with further dissection, the reader can figure out which side the author come from; religious side or an almost denouncement of religion as well as lack of God in the Vietnam war.

The author has utilized imagery, diction (choice of words), and the nature to display his perspective and beliefs. Therefore, the reader can understand the beliefs of the young American soldiers during that time.

The poem use nature to portray the belief and perspective of the author. Komunyakaa gives thanks to trees, which he claims that came in between him and the sniper’s bullet. The tree protected him from being killed. In the next few lines, the writer states that he does not understand “what made the grass sway seconds before the Viet Cong raised his soundless rifle.

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”( Komunyakaa) In this case, it is crystal clear that audiences get the alliteration from the “seconds, sway, and soundless,” which provides them with a calmed sense about the overall situation.

It does not mean much that Viet Cong raised his soundless or silent weapon to kill the narrator, but what audiences get is how the grass swayed seconds before he raised it. In this case, nature appears to be the primary theme portrayed, and Komunyakaa tries to convey to the audiences that he is giving his appreciations to it. Nature is directly associated with God, which presents his religious perspectives and beliefs. Therefore, “thanks” are meant to glorify God’s actions to control nature and His personality.

Another element that shows audiences more about the narrators’ perspectives and beliefs is the choice of word or diction. Even if an individual had never read any other poem by Komunyakaa alluding to the entire sense of the war in Vietnam, they would still understand what is going on within the first four lines of this poem. In the beginning line, the narrator starts, “Some voice…,” which inform the audiences that he relinquishes credit for being alive. The poem, through diction, enfolds the woman’s memory like the way people are distracted by memories and thoughts. According to the poem, it is stated that “Deadly game for blind gods,” which is an effective use of diction to represent vagueness, abstraction and distant.

The poet tries to encompass a lot and iteration of “blind” portrays incompetent, ineffective, inappropriate and recalcitrant or able-ist analogy. Also, the end of his poem almost evokes a scenario of a guardian angel. His perspective, in this case, can be related to one situation feeling protected and watched over, having to survive while others die. Also, in the second stanza, Komunyakaa states that “Thanks for deflecting ricochet against that anarchy of dust…” The narrator is outside his country as a Journalist in Vietnam, but he was accompanied by soldiers, maybe who have left his family back home, and now he is close to death. The narrators use dust, one element of nature, to present his perspective and belief. He also admits that he does not understand what made the butterfly hand on the tripwire.

In this case, Komunyakaa employs an exceptional tone in this poem. Instead of expressing his anger, primarily to the person who tried to kill him, he shows great thanks to the trees or any other object that saved his life from death at that very second. The perspective Komunyakaa takes, especially to his audiences, attracts their attentions, given the fact that using nature as a protector draws the readers in. His choice of words plays on readers emotional response to his words, which creates brilliant poetry. According to the poem, when Komunyakaa finished thanking the trees and other objects, he writes, “I was back in San Francisco / wrapped up in a woman’s wild colors.” These lines portray his joy after he survived an extremely close encounter with death. The concise and precise choice of word sets the narrator aside from any other poet and at the same time, present to the readers, his perspectives and beliefs.

In additional to Komunyakaa’s ability to use diction in setting the emotional mood for the poem, he has employed it again to create an elegant voice that enables his words to flow well for any reader. The attention of most readers is attracted by the smooth movement and flow of words throughout the poem. He documents the situation in Vietnam and various moments that he should have died and focused on their arbitrary nature.

He states that he doesn’t know who to thank since it was above him to understand who had brought the butterfly to rest on the tripwire “What made me spot the monarch writhing on a single thread tied to a farmer’s gate.” He also thanks to the flower and analyzes the war as a game for “blind gods.” However, the reader tends to think that all the ways of nature that saved the narrator were just a mere chance that other soldiers did not get. “Thanks for the vague white flower that pointed to the gleaming metal reflecting how it is to be broken mist over the grass” (Komunyakaa).

Komunyakaa expresses his thanksgiving events in a very relaxed manner and seems so disconnected to them and doesn’t seem like he is the one. However, in the last line, he mentioned a moving object which moved when he only moved, which makes him more thankful. However, there is no mention as to why the flying objects were there. The poem, “Thanks,” by Komunyakaa is challenging to interpret, but narrator describes how he felt as compared to other groups of people who were affected by the war. Also, the reader realizes Komunyakaa’s hatred for the war and whoever sent him there. A religious theme is noted here, and the poem appears like a prayer poem, but on a close viewpoint, this seems opposite, and even God is absent.

Works Cited

  1. Komunyakaa, Yusef Flint. “Thanks.” The Carolina Reader, edited by Kelsey J.H. Martin and Ethan J. H. Knight, Hayden-McNeil, 2019, p. 349.

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The Beliefs of American Solider. (2019, Nov 24). Retrieved from

The Beliefs of American Solider
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