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Sophisticated military devices are asctibed to psychological darkness and act as metaphors for the atrocities that have become embedded in our consciousness of war. More than most of his contemporaries Underwood implicates civilians in the Darwinian struggle, the 'truceless wars of fang and talon', and he 40 American War Literature explores the deep structure of war as a process of ,vivisection'; the dehumanised image suggests the vision of later writers such as Dos Passos and Mailer who were interested in the psychological conditioning of soldiers.
His popular reputation as a war poet derives from his two much-anthologised poems 'Rouge Bouquet' and 'The White Ships and the Red', a parable on the sinking of the Lusitania. Kilmer, although married with children, chose to be drafted to France just three months after the United States entered the war. Before his death on 30 July 1918, he was promoted to sergeant, having also acted as editor of the AEF newspaper. The most notable elements in Kilmer's poetry relate to the underlying oxymoron of peace-loving warriors killing only to preserve significant moral values.
Such an enterprise will be attempted in the remaining part of the chapter which analyses several poems in great detail as case studies or foci where linguistic configurations may be located as an index of meaning. ion, heavily dependent upon lexical and typographical effects, exemplifies a unique resolution of the aesthetic problem of treating the First World War as a theme in American poetry. The war, though, continued to occupy other poets such as Archibald MacLeish Poetic Language: First World War 33 and Malcolm Cowley who, partly as a result of serving overseas, had become expatriates.