By Jim Northrup
I was born in war, WW Two.
Listened as the old men told stories of getting gassed in the trenches, WW One.
Saw my uncles come back from
Guadalcanal, North Africa and the battle of the Bulge.
Memorized war stories my cousins told of Korea.
Felt the fear in their voices.
Finally it was my turn, my brothers too.
Joined the marines in the time for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Heard the crack of rifles in the rice paddies south of Da Nang.
Watched my friends die there then tasted the bitterness of the only war America ever lost
My son is now a warrior.
Will I listen to his war stories or cry to his open grave.
Summary of Ogichidag
- Popularity of “Ogichidag”: “Ogichidag” by Jim Northrup, a renowned Anishinaabe newspaper columnist, poet, and performer, is a reflective poem. The poem highlights various great wars fought back in time. The objective is to highlight how these battles affected the poet and his race. It also refreshes the memories of the severe losses done in the warfare. The popularity of the poem lies in the fact that it takes its reader back to a time where these warriors fought for a noble cause.
- “Ogichidag” As A Representative of Sorrow: This poem is about warriors and the wars they fought for their country. It begins when the poet talks about his birth amid World War II. He grew up listening to the stories of World War I along with other great battles in which his family took part. He accounts for the horrors of warfare he saw in his uncle and cousins’ eyes when they narrated their side of war stories. Since he shared an army background, he also joined the Marines at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. There he witnessed how people become animals. He was shocked to see his friends losing their lives. After narrating all these incidents, he states that his son is also a warrior. Therefore, he tries to imagine whether he will listen to his stories in the future, or he will see him dead during the war.
- Major Themes in “Ogichidag”: Horrors of war, important historical occurrences, and deaths are the major themes of the poem. Throughout the poem, the poet sheds light on the dreadful realities of wars. Since he opened his eyes to a family in which most members took part in various great wars. Hence, he has an idea about the brutalities one has to endure during this challenging time. Sadly, when he took part in a battle, he witnessed and hardly digested the tragic demise of his friends. These traumatic losses seem engraved in his memory that he shares the same fear for his son, who is currently serving in the army. In other words, the poem tries to make the readers visualize the stress, trauma, and troubles of the people who fight to protect their nations.
Analysis of Literary Devices Used in “Ogichidag”
literary devices refer to the specific structures used by writers to convey their message in an impressive manner to their readers. Jim Northrup has also inserted some literary devices in this poem to enhance his writing. The analysis of the devices used in this poem is as follows.
- Assonance: Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds in the same line such as the sound of /e/ in “Felt the fear in their voices” and the sound of /o/ in “Memorized war stories my cousins told of Korea.”
- Alliteration: Alliteration is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /th/ in “the time for the” and /g/ sound in “getting gassed.”
- Allusion: Allusion is a belief and an indirect reference of a person, place, thing, or idea of a historical, cultural, political, or literary significance. Jim, in this poem, alludes to the great wars of history such as “, North Africa and the battle of the Bulge” and “Joined the marines in the time for the Cuban Missile Crisis.”
- Consonance: Consonance is the repetition of consonant sounds in the same line such as the sound of /r/ in “Memorized war stories my cousins told of Korea” and the sound of /s/ and /m/ in “Joined the marines in the time for the Cuban Missile Crisis” and “Listened as the old men told stories of getting gassed in the trenches, WW One.”
- Enjambment: It is defined as a thought in verse that does not come to an end at a line break; rather, it rolls over to the next line. For example;
“Joined the marines in the time for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Heard the crack of rifles in the rice paddies south of Da Nang.”
- Imagery: Imagery is used to make readers perceive things involving their five senses. Jim Northrup has used imagery in this poem such as “My son is now a warrior”, “Felt the fear in their voices” and “Will I listen to his war stories or cry to his open grave.”
- Metaphor: It is a figure of speech in which an implied comparison is made between the objects that are different in nature. The poet has used war as an extended metaphor in the poem to show how the brutalities of warfare eat the lives of the families of its participants.
- Symbolism: Symbolism is using symbols to signify ideas and qualities, giving them symbolic meanings that are different from the literal meanings. “Fear in the voices” symbolizes the horrors of warfare.
Analysis of Poetic Devices Used in “Ogichidag”
Poetic and literary devices are the same, but a few are used only in poetry. Here is the analysis of some of the poetic devices used in this poem.
- Diction: The poem shows descriptive diction, having metaphors.
- Free Verse: The poem does not follow any rhyme scheme. Therefore, it is a free verse poem having no rhyme scheme or metrical pattern.
- Stanza: A stanza is a poetic form of some lines. There are two stanzas with each having a different number of verses.
Quotes to be Used
These lines from “Ogichidag” are relevant to use while talking about the lives of the people who take part in wars.
“I was born in war, WW Two.
Listened as the old men told stories of getting gassed in the trenches, WW One.”