“The Last Laugh”
Vocabulary--definitions �Guffawed: noisy, crude laugh �Lofty: great height, noble �Tittered: a laugh that is quiet �Vainly: to lack an effect �Rabbles: a mob, disorderly group �Languid: lacking energy �Hooted: loud sounds—normally disapproval
The Story Analysis �Form: �Purpose: �Tone: �Characters: �Setting: �Title: The title of the poem comes from the old saying, “He who laughs last, laughs best. ” In war time it is death that has the last laugh—or more specifically the instruments of war, guns. It is a three-stanza poem that captures the final moment in the death of three men on the battlefield.
'Oh! Jesus Christ! I'm hit, ' he said; and died. Whether he vainly cursed or prayed indeed, The Bullets chirped-In vain, vain! Machine-guns chuckled, -Tut-tut! And the Big Gun guffawed. Translation: doesn’t Technique: Interjection/Blasphemous outcry Effect: Connotes extreme passion/surprise matter if he actually did curse or pray—it was in vain as he is dead Technique: contrast Technique: Personification of the The exclamations guns contrast the simplicity of Effect: the guns themselves seem “he said. ” to be mocking the dead—insensitive Effect: diminishes the to humanity. personality of the Technique: onomatopoeia Who is to blame? The guns or the speaker. Effect: creates the sound of the soldiers firing them? battlefield for the readers and continues the personification.
Another sighed, -'O Mother, - Dad!' Then smiled at nothing, childlike, being dead. And the lofty Shrapnel-cloud Leisurely gestured, -Fool! And the splinters spat, and tittered. Technique: Interjection/Childish outcry Effect: Connotes extreme passion/surprise Technique: separation/pause (grammar) Effect: the pause before and exclamation after adds emphasis—both the leisurely nature of the cry and the message. Technique: Personification of the guns Effect: the guns themselves seem to be mocking the dead—insensitive to humanity. Translation: Once again, cries in vain as he dies immediately after. Technique: word choice “childlike” Effect: mimics the childish nature of his cries and reinforces the imagery of young soldiers dying. Technique: onomatopoeia Effect: creates the sound of the battlefield for the readers and continues the personification.
'My Love!' one moaned. Love-languid seemed his mood, Till slowly lowered, his whole faced kissed the mud. And the Bayonets' long teeth grinned; Rabbles of Shells hooted and groaned; And thedialogue Gas hissed. Technique: word choice, “love. Technique: Direct ““ Effect: attempts to make a connection with the reader to individual soldier’s thoughts. This is immediately cut short when they die suddenly. Technique: punctuation ; Effect: slows the reader down, to focus on individual lines languid” Effect: attempts to create an image of the boy’s thoughts, but the reader soon learns that he is languid because he is dead not love. Technique: Imagery “kissed the mud” Effect: strong contrast as the kiss intended for his lover is instead delivered to the mud. Technique: word choice, rabble Effect: connotes that shells are coming down at random and killing in the same random manner.
Commentary �Like snapshots taken by a professional war , the deaths are confronting, unheroic and gloss over nothing. �How much laughter is heard on a battle field? To think of guns as laughing has a distinct effect. The unreal quality of the weapons’ laughter might serve to emphasise the very human reality of the dying men.