Christmas Truce

Look at the following images, what do they make you think of?

christmas_truce_50071224_truceA “Truce” is “an agreement between two people or groups involved in a war, fight, or disagreement to stop it for a period of time”.

What is in your opinion of the Christmas Truce? Why do you think it took place?  How did it take place?  What did the soldiers do?


Now look at this video and listen to the background ballad.

“Christmas in the Trenches” is a ballad from John McCutcheon’s 1984 Album Winter Solstice. It tells the story of the 1914 Christmas Truce between the British and German lines on the Western Front during the Great War from the perspective of a fictional British soldier. Although Francis Tolliver is a fictional character, the event depicted in the ballad is true. John McCutcheon met some of the German soldiers involved in this Christmas story when he toured in Belgium.

How did the take a break from the war to celebrate Christmas? What did they do?

What do you think they sang?

What do you think they gave one another as presents?

Read the following and see whether you were right.

The ballad is a first person narrative by Francis Tolliver, a fictional British soldier from Liverpool. He is relating the events that happened two years prior, while he was a soldier in the trenches of the Great War. He and his fellow soldiers are dug in to their trench, where, as Tolliver relates, “the frost so bitter hung,” while their German enemies occupy the trench at the opposite end of No Man’s Land. The scene is one of quiet and cold; “the frozen fields of France were still; no songs of peace were sung.” The men are reflecting on how their families back in England are making “their brave and glorious lads so far away” the subject of their Christmas toasts, when from the German lines they suddenly hear a young German voice singing out clearly. He is soon joined by his comrades, and the sound of their carol fills the empty fields devastated by war. When they finish, some of the British soldiers from Kent sing “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” after which the Germans sing “Stille Nacht.” The British soldiers accompany them, singing in English, “and in two tongues one song filled up the sky.” The British troops are startled when their front line sentry cries out that a lone German figure has left their trench and is marching alone across No Man’s Land, unarmed and with a truce flag. Though all of the men aim their rifles at him, nobody fires, and soon all of the men on both sides are leaving their trenches and meeting their enemies unarmed in No Man’s Land. There, they trade chocolate and cigarettes and exchange photographs of their families back home, at which all of the men are struck by how similar their enemy is to themselves. One of the Germans plays his violin while a British soldier plays his squeezebox, and the men launch flares to light up the field in order to play a game of football. Later, with the first signs of daylight, Tolliver relates that “France was France once more; With sad farewells we each began to settle back to war.” But, McCutcheon sings, “the question haunted every man who lived that wondrous night; ‘whose family have I fixed within my sight?'” It ends with the fictional Tolliver’s lessons gleaned from the experience; that “the ones who call the shots won’t be among the dead and lame- and on each end of the rifle we’re the same.”

See Christmas Truce ( or (

Inspired by a back-stage conversation with an old woman in Birmingham, AL, this song tells a story that is not only true, but well-known throughout Europe. Now read the lyrics of the ballad.

My name is Francis Tolliver

Watch the 3-minute video and answer the questions below.  You will watch the video twice.

1 Why are the British surprised on Christmas Eve?

2 What did the British do?

3 Why were the British afraid at first?

4 What did the British and Germans do when they met?

5 What did they have in common?

6 What did they both risk?

7 Why did the soldiers go back to fighting the day after?

8 Why was it difficult to pick up rifles again?

Watch the 5-minute video and answer the questions or complete the sentences:

1 What appeared all across the German lines?

2 What did the British think?

3 Instead of rifle fire _______________________________________________________________

4 What did the soldiers do? (mention of all the activities)

5 What did Captain Charles Stockwell do?

6 What did the soldiers know?

7 What was the unofficial Truce a chance for?

8 The Christmas Truce was the last public moment ______________________________________

9 What happened on December 26th? (Be specific)

Read a short article on the Christmas Truce and fill in the blanks with the words given in the box:

enemies, soccer,  warfare, combatants, truce , quashed , troops,  the lines, shells, cease-fire , firing, destroy , trenches, no-man’s-land, unarmed, retrieval, outbreak, clash of weapons


During World War I, on and around Christmas Day 1914, the sounds of rifles _____  and _____  exploding faded in a number of places along the Western Front in favor of holiday celebrations in the _____   and gestures of goodwill between _____  .

On December 7, 1914, Pope Benedict XV suggested a temporary hiatus of the war for the celebration of Christmas. The warring countries refused to create any official _____  , but on Christmas the soldiers in the trenches declared their own unofficial _____.

Starting on Christmas Eve, many German and British _____ sang Christmas carols to each other across _____, and at certain points the Allied soldiers even heard brass bands joining the Germans in their joyous singing.

At the first light of dawn on Christmas Day, some German soldiers emerged from their trenches and approached the Allied lines across _____, calling out “Merry Christmas” in their enemies’ native tongues. At first, the Allied soldiers feared it was a trick, but seeing the Germans _____ they climbed out of their trenches and shook hands with the enemy soldiers. The men exchanged presents of cigarettes and plum puddings and sang carols and songs. There was even a documented case of soldiers from opposing sides playing a good-natured game of_____.

Some soldiers used this short-lived ceasefire for a more somber task: the _____ of the bodies of fellow _____ who had fallen within the no-man’s land between the lines.

The so-called Christmas Truce of 1914 came only five months after the _____  of war in Europe and was one of the last examples of the outdated notion of chivalry between enemies in _____. It was never repeated—future attempts at holiday ceasefires were _____ by officers’ threats of disciplinary action—but it served as heartening proof, however brief, that beneath the brutal _____, the soldiers’ essential humanity endured.

During World War I, the soldiers on the Western Front did not expect to celebrate on the battlefield, but even a world war could not _____  the Christmas spirit.


Write a short paragraph in which you express your feelings about the Christmas Truce.  What do we learn from this historical event? Why should it be celebrated or remembered?

Do the following reading activity at home and be prepared to discuss it in class

Reading Activity

6a00d83451584369e2015392e59fe7970b-800wiNow read the poem by Carol Ann Duffy and be prepared to share your impressions with your classmates.

Carol Ann Duffy

The First World War truce – which saw British and German troops lay down their arms – has been immortalised by Poet Laureate and Mirror columnist Carol Ann Duffy.

On Christmas Day 1914 soldiers from both sides of the trenches on the Western Front in northern France met up in No Man’s Land for a game of football.  As many as 100 troops took part and the game began after each side was heard singing Christmas songs in their trenches.  As many as 100,000 soldiers were involved in a number of unofficial ceasefires staged at Christmas and other times during the conflict.  Captain Bruce Bairnsfather wrote of the 1914 truce: “I wouldn’t have missed that unique and weird Christmas Day for anything.”

Illustration-by-David-Rob-007Duffy’s poetry penetrates the detail of life in the trenches in order to fuse the reader’s feelings with the intensity of the suspended moments of the truce. She describes the men huddling together, lighting their pipes or waiting for sleep. A young soldier stares at the same star that his mother may be gazing at simultaneously.  The poem goes on to describe the horror of war through its evocative imagery of the damage it inflicted on the soldiers.  Can you substantiate this?

The poem describes the singing as a “sudden bridge from man to man” that elicited cheering. The fraternisation from this point onwards gathers pace like a snowball with French, German and English songs being sung through the night, followed by gifts and exchanges of food, alcohol and cigarettes at daylight. There is more translation from Duffy as she charts the fast-growing warmth and communication between the soldiers:

I showed him a picture of my wife
iche zeigte ihm
ein Foto meiner frau.
Sie sei schon, sagte er.
He thought her beautiful, he said.

The soldiers also buried their dead in a part of the war-torn landscape described by Richard Schirrmann (founder of the German Youth Hostel Association) as, “Strewn with shattered trees, the ground ploughed up by shellfire, a wilderness of earth, tree-roots and tattered uniforms.” This was the area known as “No Man’s Land” which became temporarily transformed by soldiers who allowed themselves to “Make of a battleground, a football pitch.”

Duffy’s skilful use of alliteration and listing is shown to full effect in the poem, which powerfully conjures the moods of alienation or sudden interaction.  Can you spot a few examples?

Press censorship and military oppression ensured that little information regarding the truces emerged, so that much of the information came directly from soldiers at the front or those wounded in hospitals. One of those who took part in the Christmas truce, Alfred Anderson, who died in 2005, recalled, “I remember the silence, the eerie sound of silence. Only the guards were on duty. We all went outside the farm buildings and just stood listening. And, of course, thinking of people back home. All I’d heard for two months in the trenches was the hissing, cracking and whining of bullets in flight, machinegun fire and distant German voices. But there was a dead silence that morning, right across the land as far as you could see. We shouted ‘Merry Christmas’, even though nobody felt merry.”

The Christmas Truce poem illuminates this silence but introduces into it:

Then flickering flames from the other side
danced in his eyes
as Christmas trees in their dozens shone,
candlelit on the parapets,
and they started to sing, all down the German lines.

Much has been written about World War One, and much of it by soldier poets—above all, the great Wilfred Owen. Carol Ann Duffy’s approach is fairly nostalgic, but very lyrical. Duffy has said of her own work, “I like to use simple words, but in a complicated way.” Owen, in contrast, who is not distanced by time or place, said of his own war poetry, “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.”


Last but not least, I would like you to watch what some students prepared on the Christmas Truce.

Questa voce è stata pubblicata in Project -The Great War-. Contrassegna il permalink.

61 risposte a Christmas Truce

  1. Elisa Angelica Farinola scrive:

    Duffy’s poem describes in detail the life in the trenches, in order to involve the reader’s feelings and to point out the intensity of the moments relative to the Christmas Truce. She describes the men who gather together as brothers, who light their pipes as if they were in their living rooms at home or simply waiting for sleep. A young soldier looks the same star that his mother could be gazing at that very moment, because we must remember that we all live under the same sky. The poem goes on describing the horrors of war through evocative images of the damage inflicted on the soldiers.

    Duffy makes a clever use of alliteration in the poem, which calls in particular to focus on the relationships between words phonetically put into relevance, in order to “catch” the reader’s attention to the chain of phonic sounds and evoking certain ideas or emotions. For example, the listing of the names wants to emphasize the fact that they are mixed English and German names , to emphasize the fact that all human beings are brothers.

    Duffy wants to bring out the misery of the soldiers. Though it is Christmas they can not be themselves because they think permanently about frost, mud and pain. This Truce is for the memory of the happy moments, but it ended in the worst way: they would start fighting again after having socialized with the enemies. How could they kill them? Persons who have now become new friends.. The coldness of the Great War had won that day.

    • Cristiana scrive:

      The use of the names is to give an identity to the soldiers too. So many died and so many were buried without having a cross with their names.
      Sad event, but beautiful poem.

  2. jessica scrive:

    The proud that pervades someone who is fulfilling something he belives in, so as fighting for his ideals, his homeland. The courage that pushes him to go on whatever happens, the enthusiasm that enlight his eyes while he is accomplishing his aims.. it’s the most powerful feeling a man could aspire to, it’s the biggest joy a human being could desire.
    But what if all you belived in, betrays your expectation? What if all you’ve ever longed for, collapses exactly while you thought you were going to achieve it? It’s what happened to british and german soldiers envolved in world war I, when they realized the great and right conflict they supported, had turned into an interest one.
    Powerlessness, disappointment, disorientation and anger, because is caused by someone you relied on. But above all loneliness. You know you could have avoided this failure if only you hadn’t lapsed into such envolving situation. You’ve lost yourself, your trust in your own figure and you know, you’re the only person you can rely on to raise again, when also your loved ones seem to be out of rich.
    You start doubting about all things, all realities that sourrounds you. You start wandering about the way you should, you could, maybe you must choose..and you unearth another powerful world
    you didn’t know: a world that overtake predjudices and false notion they’ve ever told you, when your homeland has tuned his back on you and your enemies has become your friends. You’re eager to descover this world, and also if you fear it, you have nothing to loose, nothing worst what you have experienced could hurts you and if it would happen, you won’t feel it because of the armor you have you hang on this new reality and make it yours.
    That’s why during World War One, the episode of Christmas Truce took place. Millions of men broke their soldier’s shape revealing to themselves and each other for what they really were: tangible human being. The disillusion provoked by this war headed partecipants to look for a more insightful sense of their enemies and their conditions.. they were human beings too.
    Duffy’s poetry with its expressive verses it’s so penetrating: it gives vivid images which allow the reader to emphatise with trenches atmosphere.
    “Somebody kissed the gold of his ring;
    a few lit pipes;
    most, in their greatcoats, huddled,
    waiting for sleep.
    The liquid mud had hardened at last in the freeze.
    But it was Christmas Eve; believe; belief thrilled the night air,
    where glittering rime on unburied sons
    treasured their stiff hair.
    The sharp, clean, midwinter smell held memory”
    Someone finds his weak through a golden ring remembering of his lover, someone else unloads tension smoking cigarettes.. “Being loved makes you strong, but loving someone makes you brave”, I heard. Stiff bodies on the ground, memories of loved ones, gave soldiers the strength to go on despite suffering so much, despite their opposite will, despite the huge emptiness provoked by such unmotivated violence. The bitter consolation they find thinking about war’s end, about coming back home, the knowledge nothing could be the same any more.
    The idea of silence and exsahustion pervading war’s field and the sensation of sadness and homesickness the soldiers were attacked by, seems to materialize line to line, strophe to strophe, until the poem ends and the “reader-spectator” has to regain contact with his reality.
    Full immersion in the episode is helped by alliterations, which concearns physical sensations: sight and hearing ( “s” alliteration in the first line and “F” alliteration in the third line) and cold ( “f” alliteration in the second line)
    “no shadows, shots from snipers, nowt to note or report.
    The frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain.
    Then flickering flames from the other side danced in his eyes”.
    Moreover, equality and fraternal feeling is given by listings as:
    “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank . . .”
    and “All night, along the Western Front, they sang, the enemies –
    carols, hymns, folk songs, anthems, in German, English, French;
    each battalion choired in its grim trench.
    So Christmas dawned, wrapped in mist, to open itself
    and offer the day like a gift
    for Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz …
    with whistles, waves, cheers, shouts, laughs.”
    Which suggest the common attitude as human being and the sharing of same conditions despite the nationality as soldiers.

  3. Luana scrive:

    Carol Ann Duff- The Chrismas Truce

    It’s complicate substantiate the Chrismas truce because in italian history books it isn’t mention. The notices that we have about it are the stories of soldiers that parteciped in the Great War and the historical documents about this event. In this poem there are a lot of links about the Truce because it’s talking about it and it talks about the chrismas songs, the fact that food, drinks, alcool, sweets are share; the funerals of both parts soldiers in no-man’s-land. This event was the sign of the useless of war and the brutality and viciousness of death of young people.
    In the poem there are a lot of alliteration for examples ‘Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank’ or ‘Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz … with whistles, waves, cheers, shouts, laughs’ or ‘no sign of life, no shadows, shots from snipers, nowt to note or report’ because there are used for underline moods of alienation of all soldiers that is present in all the poem.

    • Cristiana scrive:

      The alliteration of the names is also used to emphasise the fact that even if the soldiers are enemies (Germans and English), they are human beings and they share the same sufferings.

  4. Chiara scrive:

    The poem talks about the Christmas Truce. It’s set in the tranches of British and German in French and the author remembers how soldiers were inside of them. During it guns were quiet and the moon was huge in the sky. Germans start singing StilleNacht first and British stayed quite and cheered tham and than started singing The first Noel. It was an extraordinary day in which English and German soldiers climbed out from the tranches and befriend exchanging biscuits and other thinga. They also buried and prayed for their death. This days passed quickly and the war started again.

    The highly descriptive part are full of details that express the cruelty of the war. The use of alliteration makes us notice better some passages and to make harsh sounds. The mud and the frozen are two elements repeated many times to cath the attention of the reader. The bird who sang alone in a tree is the same of then soldiers, leaved and forgotten in trenches, hopeless and won by sufference.

  5. Matteo scrive:

    Carol Ann Duffy: The Christmas Truce
    Carol Ann Duffy was a War Poet and like all them he describes in his text “The Christmas Truce” the horror of the War. In fact there are some evocative’s images of the destructive consequences of the that like:
    Line 2: The dead lay still in No Man’s Land.
    Line 3: The moon, like a medal, hung in the clear, cold sky. It symbolize the fact that the prize for the soldier is the sky (death).
    Lines 5-6: A boy from Stroud stared at a star to meet his mother’s eyesight there. It underlines that he would never see again his mother and that it’ s the only way to do that.
    Line 8-9: An owl swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse. In a copse of trees behind the lines, a lone bird sang. Birds’s figure always remember death’s figure. It’s like the death bird.
    Line 11: Then silence spread and touched each man like a hand. It remindsdeath’s hand.
    Line 18: No sign of life. The destructive consequences of the War.
    Line 27-28-29: Cariad, the song was a sudden bridge from man to man; a gift to the heart from home, or childhood, some place shared … Here it’s remembered soldiers’ childhood and it’s a turning point because it’s thought that when you are going to die you see all your life in a flash.
    Line 35: Who had died. The word death is constantly repeated to highlight the end of the War and the life.

    The poem is also full of alliteration tounderlinded soldiers’s mood like:
    Line 3: Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank . . .
    Line 6: A boy from Stroud stared at a star.
    Line 24: The frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain. It underlines the frozen soldiers and fronzen place.
    Line 25: Then flickering flames from the other side danced in his eyes. It highlights the destructive flames.
    Line 28: Men who would drown in mud. “W”’s alliteration underlines the word “drown” that reminds to Owen’s poem “Dulce et decorum est” where there is the figure of the solider that is drown in the gas.

    • Cristiana scrive:

      Carol Ann Duffy is not a war poet. She is one of the greatest British poets and she is still living.
      You spotted examples of alliteration in the poem, but you did not mention why C.A.Duffy decided to alliterate certain words rather than others. There is always a reason. It’s up to you to figure out what it may be. 😉

  6. Giulia Fren scrive:

    Carol Ann Duffy wrote this poem to celebrate the German and British soldiers who fought during the I World War. The reason why she composed “The Christmas Truce” was the soldiers’ decision not to struggle on Christmas 1914. First of all the men – both of the British and of the German Army – were human beings, with the same feelings, emotions, sufferings and hopes also if war had transformed them into killing machines.
    Actually the I World War was welcomed with enthusiasm and a lot of young people volunteered because they considered the conflict as an adventure undertaken for noble ends. Soon the initial proud was replaced by growing doubts and disillusionment. Life in the trenches was hell and the soldier poets, who improvised verses were trying to awake the conscience of those who, living comfortable at home, ignored the horrors of the war.
    No Man’s Land was the name of the LAND where the conflict took place, it is mentioned in the first stanza and I’m upset, because this expression is followed by the soldiers’ name: this device conveys a sense of friendship and brotherhood among men who till that moment have been enemies, but on Christmas they forgot the hate locked in their souls by their own country, in order to evoke feelings of pity and forgiveness and not to be driven by pride and desire of dominion. It is referred to something that would have caused a change in their lives.
    Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank and yet Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz: who is English and who German? They are simply men, it doesn’t matter where they come from. The horror and violence of the war disappeared in front of the German Christmas song, seen as the metaphor of the bridge that connects men, a remembrance of the home-warmth, a recollection of childhood of the soldiers who, once, had been young and innocent. They must appear cold and pitiless, because war is a weapon that doesn’t allow you to be kind or fragile, but in that very moment they show who they really are: fathers and husbands.
    In the first stanza we find a contraposition between the image of the boy looking at the star and catching his mother’s sight in its brightness and the last line , where the horrors of the war are described with painful details. A hard opposition is pointed out: on one side the delight of life, the recollection in the soldier’s mind of his mother , who represents the warmth and the light. On the other side there is the present world, the world of the war, made up of darkness, cold nights and fear. The owl of the poem can be associated to a tyrannical judge, who from the top of the tree is looking with no pity to your meaningless death. The disgustind rat is upon a corpse, that once was a man. Both of them evoke anxiety and dissolve the lively image of the previous lines. Ann Duffy in her poem discovers moments of consolation through love, memory and language , she uses dramatic scenes using simple words in a way that doesn’t sound from her perspective. Imagery is very important, so the reader can visualize her words. Amazing is her representation of reality using different forms of alienation, everyday, conversational language. She plays with words as she explores the way in which meaning and reality are constructed through language. The use of alliteration and listing give the poem a particular sound effect; it seems to be a lullaby: in the 2nd verse there is an alliteration of N, in the 3rd verse of letter F, in the 16th of letter E and V , in the verse number 23 of letter F, in the stanza 12 of letter H and in the stanza 16 of letter S.

    • Cristiana scrive:

      I liked your observation of the contrast created by the poet between “No Man’s Land” and the mentioning of the soldiers’ names. I think this contrast is meant to highlight the fact that those soldiers who died had an identity of their own and they must be remembered because their death was a “stupid” death. No human being should fight another human being. You may fight against a soldier belonging to a different nation declared by your govenrment as the “enemy”, but then you realize that enemy is just like you. This is what I love about this poem. It is more than a manifesto against the war. It is a poem that celebrates the wonderful qualities human beings have in common, regardless of their nationality.

  7. Leonardo Bidoia scrive:

    I think the poem by Carol Ann duffy is sadly true because it tells in all its crudity the events of the Great War , but nevertheless the Christmas truce has, in my opinion, changed the concept of enemy. Indeed the Days of Christmas, the two front, English and German, decided to stop the rain of bullets and establish a day of peace with the enemy, cutting off the series of deaths and violence.
    Everything has to reflect also because there is respect between enemies, even in war.
    And what these guys (just because guys did not exceed the average age 20 years) were able to do a thing so beautiful in a time where everything in the world is bad.


    A boy from Stroud stared a the star

    no sign of life,
    no shadows, shots from snipers…

    The frozen, foreign fields…

    … beneath the shivering, shy stars

    with whistles, waves, cheers, shouts, laughs

    Sie sei schön, sagte er.

    bright bullets

  8. Simona Mastrapasqua scrive:

    “The Christmas truce” of Carol Ann Duffy is a poem addressed to children. This can be understood by the fact that she describes the moment of “rest”, when everything is silence. In fact she uses a calm tone and slow pace. Moreover, in addition to the situations where the soldiers pass the night thinking their parents or trying to fall asleep, Duffy reveals also the horror of war. For example she wrote ” Men who would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporised, by falling shells or live to tell”. In these lines she lists all the ways you could die. Mud was an element, which put in dufficulty many soldiers, because it was the result of the amputation of the feet. So there was a relief when it froze: “The liquid mud had hardened at last in the freeze”. Then there were gas, shot, ecc. Even if you was not hit by a bomb or a shot, you could have a shell shock.
    In all the poem there is a repetiton of words “dead” and “corpse” or there are lists with the names of the fallen to emphasize the moltitude of casualties. Another alliteration is “believe; belief” that underline the importance of Christmas because it gives hope. A phrase that gives me emotions is “I shell noto want”. Who thought this during the truce had the conception that short moments bring happiness.

    • Cristiana scrive:

      The poem is meant to commemorate the deaths of so many young soldiers, it is a manifesto against the war and as such it is addressed to both adults and children. I think that the illustrations to the poem are meant to emphasise the fact that any war kills “innocence”.

  9. Francesca Lovisa scrive:

    Carol Ann Duffy “The Christmas Truce”

    The poem describes the horror of war through its evocative imagery of the damage it inflicted on the soldiers; Duffy writes about: “Men who would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporised by falling shells, or live to tell”. The cruelty and inhumanity of the war emerge from the explicit description of the multitudes of ways a soldier could die from.
    She uses listing and alliteration in the first stanza, when she describes Christmas Eve and the mood of alienation of the soldiers, writing down names of both Germans and British men “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank . . .” who, instead of celebrating this joyful holiday, are laying dead in No Man’s land; and again in the 12th stanza: “Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz . . . with whistles, waves, cheers, shouts, laughs” when it is finally Christmas day and the British and German troops surprisingly gather together to celebrate Christmas.

    • Cristiana scrive:

      I liked the way your worded a core aspect of the poem: “the cruelty and inhumanity of the war emerge from the explicit description of the multitudes of ways a soldier could die from.”

  10. Basma Saykouk scrive:

    Carol Ann Duff was able to carry us through his poetry and his evocative images, up to the trenches. Perhaps each of us reading this poem, recognize himself in one of the figures of soldiers. For example, I recognize myself in the soldier staring at a star in the sky, recalls his mother, perhaps because the sky may be the only element that remains common to the soldier, and his mother they are under the same sky. The most important topics that characterize the poem,are those that characterize the internal situation of each soldier: night, silence, horror in the first part; peace ,fellowship and singing in the second one. It’s night, no sign of life, no shadows, shots from snipers, no fire, no war. In These atmosphere every soldier despite being frozen, absorbed in mud, and trembling from the cold, still have the power to stay awake lost in some dream or thought. Someone is still awake to remember the mother looking at a star. Others who remember affection, looking at gold ring. The night have a supreme importance, of reflection. At night soldiers think, write (a soldier is Also a poet), and remember perhaps, even try to sleep.
    Night is the only moment for the soldier, who gives vent to all those thoughts that he could not deepen the morning. Ann Cliff deepen then not only the outward appearance and physique of the soldier, but also his psychological condition, not visible to the eye but near each of our hearts.
    The poem begins with a detailed description of the night , seen in this first part as a sad moment , which emphasizes even more the misery of every soldier . In this first part triumphs horror , fear, misery, dejection. The horror and silence are the masters of the whole scene. Reading the poem, we realize that it is a crescendo,an initial situation of horror that is disappearing and comes near to that great event (Christmas), where the fraternization explode, with the exchange of food and gifts,carols, hymns, folk songs, singing is the “sudden bridge from man to man.” We are in 1914 with the Christmas truce. The night, after this Great event, is no longer silent ,horror and cold, but fraternization gifts,cheers, shouts, laughs. The night now, is not reflection but celebration,an almost emotional warmth,that reminds them of their homes. They were no longer enemies, but brothers. No more warriors or soldiers, but finally human beings.
    All immersed in nature where the sky and stars seem to have reconciled with each other. Where the timid stars shine, as humanity and love shine from the heart of each soldier.

    Carol Ann Cliff uses a powerful and descriptive language, several repetitions, personifications such as “shy stars and the pinned moon,” “Silver frost on barbed wire, strange tinsel, sparkled and winked,” “silence spread and touched each man like a hand “. Similarities such as: “The moon, like a medal,” and alliteration: “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank …”,”no shadows, shots from snipers”,” The frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain “,” Then flickering flames from the other side”, “Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz”, “with whistles, waves”. This event will be the most valid proof that the war is really an atrocious act, terrible and useless. We are all human beings we share the same fate and no one should have a license to take the life of a person. This is the task that does not concern us,but regard someone who is above us.

    • Cristiana scrive:

      Remember that the poet is Carol Ann Duffy (do not know why you wrote Cliff more than once. Is there a Carol Ann Cliff? I will check it now , just out of curiosity!). “She” not “he”!

  11. RIGUTTO TOMMASO scrive:


  12. Veronica P. scrive:

    This poem describes perfectly the situaton of the trenches on Christmas Day. The poem is so detailed because it seems that you can feel thoose moments as you were there.
    It’s the Christmas Day: soldiers who are every day in conflict are playing together because they miss the happyness of Christmas’ Holidays. Unfortunately this is only a truce. A little truce. In fact, the next day things are the same as previous days. But with one big difference: the soldiers know each other. They found really hard to kill people who they have played, laugh and joke with. Both the factions are composed by young people and they don’t want to kill, they don’t want the war, expecially after Christmas’ Night but unfortunately they are obliged. In my opinion, this is the horror described by the poem.
    In the poem there are a lot of alliteration which have the function of repeating like “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank” or “Stroud stared at a star”.
    An example may be that soldiers sing and joke together before and the day after will be ready to die for their country: smothering or gas trapped in the mud of the trenches.

  13. Madalina scrive:

    The poem goes on to describe the horror of war through its evocative imagery of the damage it inflicted on the soldiers. Can you substantiate this?
    The presence of death shows up on line 8, where “an owl swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse”. From then on to line 16 the poet evokes imagines of the pain and misery of the soldiers. Some of them take advantage of the ceased fire to think about their relatives (line 12), others smoke pipes (line 13), others wait to get to sleep in the cold of the winter (line 14-15). The only positive aspect is the freezing of the mud, so that they do not suffer anymore of trench foot.
    Duffy’s skilful use of alliteration and listing is shown to full effect in the poem, which powerfully conjures the moods of alienation or sudden interaction. Can you spot a few examples?
    the presence of germans words in the songs make it feel more realistic, in the same way the poet use the allitaration on the name of his fallen comrades (“Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank . . .” line 3) and those who exchanged gifts (“Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz …” line 45) , it makes you realize the closeness between the subjects.

    • Cristiana scrive:

      Nice consideration the one that the use of alliterative personal names gives a sense of closeness of the soldiers. 😉

  14. Giulia Marson scrive:

    1)“The Christmas Truce” is written by Carol Anne Duffy as a remembrance of the truce between German and English troups, which took place on Christmas Eve. We could notice a gap between the first part of the poem and the second one. In fact, the opening section consists of a large accurate description of the frozen silent climate the war brought. Here, the poet carefully portrays some chilling details like the “owl swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse” or furthermore “Silver frost on barbed wire” to define the scene of death and frost. We can catch the feeling of abandonment and terror the soldiers sensed, underlined by Duffy’s image of a young boy who looks for his mother through the moon. The following section completely changes the whole climate. The soldiers here are trying to forget the war: they call forth Christmas spirit, forgetting their own uniform and singing as one single voice a song which “was a sudden bridge from man to man”. Words like “frost”, “silent” and “pain” turne into “whistles, waves, cheers, shouts, laughs.”. The tremendous feeling of war still remains all around, as trenchant lines like “the sprawled, mute shapes of those who had died.” remeber us, but we can also perceive soldiers’ effort to forget it and hide it by the brotherhood and equality ones. Nevertheless the beginning of the poem leaves its mark showing how hard and devastating the life in trenches was for soldiers: guys who were forced to leave every human condition and meet death, terror and loneliness.

    2)In her poem, Duffy makes use of games of fonetic to enforce her message. Feelings of loneliness and death are accentuated by listing of hard sound of words just like in the third line “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank . . .”, which seems to call all dead men one by one. On the other hand, another list of name is made in the following part of the poem, but this time there is just the soft sound of “Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz …”. In fact here mood of warmth and interaction take place. Moreover the lines “A boy from Stroud stared at a star” and ” The frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain.” with their alliteration want to symbolize the condition of abandonment the soldiers had to live in.

    • Cristiana scrive:

      I liked your comment on the sense of abandonment. I had not thought of it myself. Thank you for pointing it out.

  15. Mattia De Camillis Baiocchi scrive:

    In Duffy’s poem is important that is also present a stanza where there are the damages that the war inflicted to soldiers, this stanza is the eight, where she writes ” Men who would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporised by falling shells, or live to tell,..”.
    This part is so important because propaganda send people to the war, but it doesn’t highlight the problems that came from this.
    Another important characteristic of this poem is listing, through this technique the poet can get stronger a thing. An example of this is when she writes about the truce, in particular about the kind of singing and for emphasise this the author explains more kinds of songs. She writes: “All night, along the Western Front, they sang, the enemies –carols, hymns, folk songs, anthems, in German, English, French;each battalion choired in its grim trench.”. Another example is the second-last stanza: “And all that marvellous, festive day and night, they came and went, the officers, the rank and file, their fallen comrades side by side beneath the makeshift crosses of midwinter graves …”, here the poet uses these examples to explain the coming and going of people during the truce.

  16. Emanuele scrive:

    Carol Ann Duffy wrote this poem in remembrance of the soldiers in the German and British trenches in World War 1. This poem describes the horror of war through its evocative imagery of the damage it inflicted on the soldiers, but in the same time has elements which represent the Christmas truce. For example in lines 2: “The dead lay still in No Man’s Land “, line 3: “The moon, like a medal, hung in the clear, cold sky”, line 8: “An owl swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse”, line 11: “Then silence spread and touched each man like a hand”, line 18: ”No sign of life” and line 36: “The sprawled, mute shapes of those who had died”, the poet wanted to represent the ugly and difficult moments that the soldiers had to face at that time, and that in the trenches, life was very hard. Only in World War 1 instead there were some special events; German soldiers, British and French have made a Christmas card and Christmas carols from the trenches and for a brief period they were like friends.
    Carol Ann Duffy in her poem uses the alliteration; she uses this figure of speech to emphasize the importance of that line, of those words and moods of the soldiers. For example in line 3: “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank”, in line 40: “For Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz”, in line 28: “Men who would drown in mud” and in lines 22-23: “No sign of life, no shadows, shots from snipers”.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      the use of alliteration is really important in this poem. To learn more about its effect read some of your classmates’ observations.

  17. Francesco Bortolussi scrive:

    Duffy ‘s poem deals with the Christmas truce, which many times is not remembered in the history books. She uses a language rich of figures of speech, such as synesthesias (“silver frost”, “flickering flames”), which are used to describe the landscape and the soldiers, or similes (“Shropshire lad ran at him like a rhyme”) and alliteration (“Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank”, “Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz”) to capture the reader’s attention: the author’s aim is to spread and support the only moment of humanity that stood out from the sea of hatred and suffering during the first World War.
    Duffy often focuses on the names of the soldiers, German and English, or on the verses, in both languages, of Christmas carols because she wants to emphasize that brotherhood and respect that disappeared after the truce between men.
    This is opposed to the suffering and destruction caused by the conflict, using gruesome imagery (“an owl swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse”) and describes how the soldiers could easily die drowning in mud, gassed, shot or vaporised.

  18. Valentina Porro scrive:

    “Christmas Truce” by Carol Ann Duffy
    1- The poem “ Christmas Truce” by Carol Ann Duffy is characterised by the juxtasposition of happy images linked to the particular event of the Christmas Truce and the images linked to the horrors of the Great War. For example in the second stanza the poet uses the image of an owl that swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse and this is a striking image of death. The image of dead corpses is present also in the fifth stanza where the poet highlights that the “glittering rime on buried sons treasured their stiff hair”. Then, in the next stanza, the poet writes “the frozen, foreign field were acres of pain” and in this line, I think that, C.A. Duffy is referring to the fact that in those fields many soldiers died and for this reason those fields are “acres of pain”. Moreover the poet makes a list of what kind of horrors soldiers had faced: “drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporose by falling shells”. Then the poet descrive how the Christmas Truce started. The soldiers from both side of the trenches started to sing. The Germans stood from their trenches and they saw, across the divide “the sprawled, mute shapes of those who had died”. So the songs, that represent a sense of living, are being compared with dead corpses, which represent the lack of life. Finally there is another striking image that is juxtaposed with the images of joy and cheerfulness that characterised this truce, that is the fact that soldiers buried the dead and they dig them graves.
    2- Carol Ann Duffy uses in this poem lists and alliterations. For example there are three lists that I want to highlight. Two of them are lists of soldiers’ names “ Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank” and “Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz”. In these lists are mentioned both English and German names. I think that the poet made this choice to highlight that soldiers have got an identity, they were people but they were treated like objects. Moreover there are other lists that are linked to the actions of the soldiers during the truce. One is linked to their songs (“carol, hymns, folk songs, anthem…”) and the other is linked to unusual actions for soldier, which are: “whistles, waves, cheers, scout, laughs”. I think that all these lists made by the poet, were thought to emphazise the features of that magic moment. Instead the alliteration is being used in those lines that are linked to the images of war. For example this technique is used to describe the sad atmosphere in which soldiers had to spend their time : “ the moon, like a medal hang in the clean, cold sky” (l), “the liquid mud had hardened“ (d), “ the frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain” (f), “men who would drown in mud” (w) and the juxtaposition of life and death: “by falling shells, or live to tell”.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      Valentina, it is always a pleasure for me reading your personal considerations. Thank you for working so hard and for taking pleasure in what you do. I will miss not having you as a student next year. Hope your future university professors will appreciate your passion for knowledge and your great quality in partaking to projects and educational activities.

  19. Andrea Moras scrive:

    The novel talks about the Christmas Truce, it is so detailed that it seems that you can feel thoose moments as you were there. The soldiers are playing, they bury their deads and they meet each other even if they are in war. But it is a short truce. They must return to the fight, but it is much more difficult, because now they know each other. And it is much more difficult kill a person we know: this is the horror of the novel. This event was, also, the sign of the useless of war and the brutality and viciousness of death of young people. The poem is full of alliterations that underline soldiers’s mood like:
    Line 3: Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank . . .
    Line 6: A boy from Stroud stared at a star.
    Line 24: The frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain. It underlines the frozen soldiers and place.
    Line 25: Then flickering flames from the other side danced in his eyes. It highlights the destructive flames.
    Line 28: Men who would drown in mud. “W”’s alliteration underlines the word “drown”.

  20. Riccardo Sartori scrive:

    Carol Ann Duffy’s poem was composed in the memory of the German and British soldiers, who ceased momentarily the conflict during the World War I, in order to celebrate the Chrismas Day in 1914. However Carol Ann Duffy uses lots of evocative imagery, in order to involve the reader, make him understand what life in the trenches was; infact she uses in the first lines lots of strong emotionally figures. The first example is when she mentions “the body of dead soldiers, who lay still in No Man’s Land”, as if that part of Land wastheir own future cemetery. Moreover the UK poet wants to underline the fact that in order to go on with the war, soldiers of both enemies troops meet in the No Man’s Land, where there were all the corpses of their fellow human beings: maybe this can be a warning and a prediction of what the fateful future reserves for them, unfortunately.
    Then there is the image of the owl associated with the glove of a corpse, which can refers to death; even the use of some adjectives make us reflect about the horrible situation of the life during that years; for examble the word “grim” linked to the trenches or “acres” associated with the pain.
    Another evocative imagery is in the last line, when Carol Ann Duffy declares the way the soldiers were buried. In fact, since there were lots of dead soldiers, they were buried in mass graves and this is a tragic image, in contrast with the fact that at the beginning of the poem, Carol Ann Duffy declares the name of some soldiers, giving them an identity, which the lost after the death during the battle. After telling the way in which they are interred, Carol Ann Duffy make a reference to the psalm, which the priest said when when you bury someone: in my opinion, she wants to chriticize the Church and its role, which were neither against nor in favour of the war.

    During her poem, Carol Ann Duffy lots of times make uses aliteration in order to create alienation. The first example is when she mentions the name of the soldiers both the German one’s at the beginning( “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank”) and the British one’s in the middle of the passage(“Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz”). Here Carol Ann Duffy shows that even if they were enemy in the battle field, there is something that join them, which is the fact that they are all human beings with their own, but at the same time common, soffering. Even in the sentence “ a boy from Stroud stared at a star” there is this use of alliteration( -st), which somehow isolated the soldier, who looks in the sky, thinking of his mother. The last example of alliteration in this poem is “with wistles waves” that contrasts the first line, in which Carol Ann Duffy speaks about the death soldiers. However, even if Carol Ann Duffy speaks about the brotherhood between the soldiers, who are all human beings, she ended the poem with a sad view of the war, because she says that all these montary happy scenes will end, because the soldiers are in a middle of a war and the other men, who now play, speak with them, are however their enemies.

  21. Yana Guerra scrive:

    “The Christmas Truce” is a poem written by Carol Ann Duffy. The poem is about German and British soldiers in the trenches during the World War I. They declared a momentary truce for the Christmas Day in 1914. Duffy underlines the condition of life in the trenches in order to underline the importance of this truce. The description of the horror of war makes us understand the damages that are inflicted on the soldiers, fot example: “men who would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporised by falling shells..”. By using two languages in her poem, German and English, the poet wants to underline that the soldiers are human being even if their nationality is different, and for all people it was Christmas Day. In fact they sang together, they exchanged food, alcohol, gifts and cigarettes. The poet uses alliteration in all poetry, fot example in the names: “Freddy, Franz, Friedrich, Frank..” or “Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz,..”, it is to underline the fraternal feeling for different soldiers, because they are all human being and not German or British, but simply men. The alliteration of “w”: “with whistles, waves, cheers, shouts, laughts..” suggests the sharing of the same conditions despite the nationality of soldiers. The alliteration of “f” in line 24: “the frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain..” suggests a sense of cold and of “s” in line 6: “a boy from Stroud stared at a star”; these two pictures symbolize the conditions of the place, in which soldiers had to live in.

  22. Emanuele scrive:

    Since I was a child, I grew up with my grandfather telling me stories about the Second World War. In this way, I always had clear what a war was, but nowaday I understand that probably the ideas I had were the figments of my joung immagination.
    Sincerly I was not aware about Christmas Truce before reading the poem by Carol Ann Duffy, but I must admit that it is enlightening. The poem “The Christmas Truce” helps me to grasp how the soldiers felt themselves; even if I think that it is impossible to put ourselves in their’s place. Sometimes I think about the smell, the mud, the weather, the mess, the shouts that a man live in a trench but then I understand that all I have thought is not comparable to the reality.
    In the history books and graveyards it is full of unknown soldiers, and I think there is nothing worse than dying without a name. Carol Ann Duffy had got it right. The most particular aspect of her poetry is that she tries to give a name to everybody, not only the soldiers but even to guns (through personification). In the second stanza the barbed wire seem to be alive! The same happens in No Man’s Land where the lying corpses look like bodies awakened by Christmas song.
    The poem it is full of imagery which remember me not only the horror of wars but in particular they give me a feeling of hope: for exaple the bird who sing in a copse of trees behind the lines.
    In the entire poem there are a lot of alliteration which represent different meanings:
    – “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank..”. This allitteration underlines that the soldiers are , first of all, enemies.
    – “A boy from Stroud stared at a star to meet his mother’s eyesight there.”. Carol Ann Duffy wants to enphasise that probably the joung soldier will never see again his mother.
    – “With wistles, waves, cheers, shout, laughs.”. Using the alliteration of “w” the poet describes the different soldiers’ behaviour during the ceased fire.
    These are in my opinion the most significant alliteration in the text.

    Li Calzi Emanuele VF

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      Thank you for writing very personal considerations. When I was a child myself, my grandfather (on my mum’s side) told me anecdotes about the Great War and World War II. They are still branded in my mind and this is why I was so moved when I first learnt about the Christmas Truce. As a teacher I could not share it with you!

  23. Mattia Pizzutti scrive:

    In this poem Carol Ann Duffy does a fantastic description of the “nice” and “bad” aspects of the war, particularly of the life in the “grim trenches”, as she herself says in the poem. Indeed while she describes the curious and happy event of the “Christmas Truce” of 1914, in which German and British soldiers, as killing machines, “becomes” human being, and met each other in No Man’s Land in order to celebrate together and to exchange wishes and gifts; she describes the background, that is, the horror of the trenches: men, with “stiff hair”, because of the extremely cold athmosphere; or the liquid mud that covered trenches’ floor, which was it itself hardened because of freeze. But the most striking fact, according to me, it it that the same men, who maybe tomorrow would drown in mud, or be gassed, or shot, or vaporised by falling shells, are hearing, singing, and dancing with the other soldiers from the other side to celebrate Christmas. They continue singing all night long, and the day after they bury the dead, always singing yes, but, singing the psalm of burial. This continuos opposition of nice and happy moments of the Christmas celebration with the sad and grim images of the trenches are for me the most curious aspect of this poem.
    This oppositions are even subtitled with the very-well-use of allitteration: for example at the beginning, when she writes : “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank” (allitteration of “Fr-”), giving an identity to the German soldiers, or end on when she writes other names: “Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz” (allitteration of “H”), but now she writes both German and English names, because the soldiers want to know themselves, want to meet themselves, and that is what happens with “Christmas Truce”. Another allitteration is almost in the middle of the poem when he writes: “The frozen, foreign fields…” (allitteration of “f”), when she is describing No Man’s Land, as a desolate land, which is only an “acres of pain”, where there are dead corpses and nothing more.
    Mattia 5F

  24. Giada scrive:

    In the poem “Christmas Truce” there are lots of evocative imagery of the damage caused by the war.
    In the line 2, the phrase:” the dead lay still in No Man’s Land” represents the psychological aspect of the soldiers because they knew they were going to die in a fight. The same aspect is represented in the last verse of the second stanza:” An owl swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse”.
    In line 8 the expression “ an owl” and in line 11 the word “silence” could be linked to fatal that had touched and killed lots of people during the war.
    As the author pointed out in line 22 “no sign of life”, every man lived without hope because they saw death everywhere.
    They knew they were destined to die during WWI. But in the other hand they were already dead because they were surrendered by mud as if they were buried.

    2. In the poem there are two evident examples of alliteration: in line 3 “ Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank” and in line 45” Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Heinz”. The author wrote that names to emphasised one of the most important themes; without a uniform a soldier is a humane being with his life, family and his own identity.
    Due to the alliteration the reader could focus on in the poem’s concepts and themes. There are lots of alliteration in the poem and the repetitions of T and F could be linked to the sound of the rifle shotgun that had characterised the war.

    Giada Blasut

  25. Arianna Fabbro scrive:

    “The poem goes on to describe the horror of war through its evocative imagery of the damage it inflicted on the soldiers. Can you substantiate this?”
    I think Carol Ann Duffy made a great work in casting a light on the terrible conditions of the soldiers in the trenches even though this was not the main theme of the poem. The christmas truce was just a tiny little positive moment of the war which, usually, is everything but generous. In the second stanza (and in many others) the poet highlights the conditions of the battlefields , where corpses were spread all over the place and rats and owls wandered around them; the mud and and the freeze, along with the silence and the loneliness are the soldiers’ worst enemies. A significant passage of the poem is the one that says: “Men who would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporised by falling shells or live to tell, heard for the first time then – Stille Nacht. Heilige Nacht. Alles schläft, einsam wacht…” because in my opinion it explains at best the situation the soldiers were living.
    “Duffy’s skilful use of alliteration and listing is shown to full effect in the poem, which powerfully conjures the moods of alienation or sudden interaction. Can you spot a few examples?”
    The entire poem is plenty of alliterations such as “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank”, and “Harry, Hugo, Herman, Henry, Heinz” which offers a sense of closeness and equality between the german and the english soldiers; in my opinion the others alliterations present in the poem are meant to give a more tender or strong sense to the poem according to the letter that is repeated.

  26. Valerio Zaina scrive:

    After a first description of the activity of the soldiers in the trenches (simply activity such as smocking the pipe, watching the stars…) Carol Ann Duffy goes on to describe the horror of war through its evocative imagery of the damage it inflicted on the soldiers: For example the poem goes on saying that an owl swooped on a rat on a corpse. Although the poem is written as it was a fairy tale, because in some ways this episode has something magical in it, this kind of imagery remembers us that we are still talking about war and its horror. I said that this episode has something magic in it: The fact is that one of the few great examples of peace between men has occurred during a war, especially during the Great War. It is true that Christmas is Christmas but I think it goes beyond it. In 1915 everyone had already realized that that war was useless and that every soldiers of every nation lived in the same conditions, and Christmas was just an occasion to let them remember it. Carol Ann Duffy underlined this fact by an intelligent use of alliteration. In two verses she writes a sequence of names that can be german and english and all that names starts with the “F” (in one line) and with the “H” (in tho other one) creating the alliteration of those two letters. Anyway that alliteration is not just a figure of speech, it is symbolic: all the soldiers (be them german or english) shared the same conditions.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      I like the reference to the juxtaposition between the images that remind the reader of a fairy tale and the horrific images that plunge the same reader into the abyss of the war.

  27. Iryna scrive:

    Semenyuk Iryna 5F

    “The Christmas Truce” is written by Carol Anne Duffy as a remembrance of the truce between German and English troops, which took place on Christmas Eve. There is a big difference between the first and the second part. In the first one we can see a description of the landscape, nature and this incredible war silence. It is very good idea to write a poem about this particular moment. Because usually in the books of history we have not any mention about this and many people did non even know about existence of this short truces. This poem is full of figures of speech such as
    alliteration which have the function of repeating like “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank” or “Stroud stared at a star”. The use of names is particulary important as Carol wants to give an identity to soldiers from the both sides. It is important that she does not take sides as she would like to demonstrate that all nationalities are equally good, all languages are perfect and show that it is non important where are you from but the Сhristmas eve is magic for everyone. It is something like suspension of deaths for 24 hours. We have also personification, some corrispondence of two different languages (still/stille), big importance of music and songs.
    Carol Ann Duffy writes brilliantly well and brings both sides of the trenches to life, showing the soldiers as people with lives, homes and families.
    On the other hand we have still the war elements, they are still cruel and depressing. This contrast is very effective and show how big is the difference between normal civil life and life in trenches.

  28. Silvia Piol scrive:

    I must really say that I have appreciated both Duffy’s poems. Both “The Christmas Truce” and “War photographer” are such powerful poems, though I must admit that the second one had a slightly stronger impact on me. What I found interesting about “The Christmas Truce” is that it gave me the opportunity to see and better understand the different faces that soldiers can have. When thinking about soldiers a picture immediately comes to my mind. I would be quite sure saying that probably most of the people share this picture with me. To describe this mental picture I would use three words: courage, weapons, uniform. But this poem taught me there’s a lot more behind the word “soldier”. There’s warmth, humanity, kindness. If we stripped one of them of his uniform and weapons, we wouldn’t find nothing but a human being just like the other seven billion human beings populating the Earth. Moreover as human beings they have our some need for human contact and companionship. Duffy beautifully renders the soldiers need for companionship and interaction by simply presenting us the scene of the two young men belonging to the opposite armies, showing one another pictures of their respective fiancées or the one of the soldiers huddling together. Next to these scenes of warmth are placed scenes of cold, ice, winter. I think the author chose to put the different scenes that way because she wanted us, readers, to understand how precious those temporary moments of warmth are in the global atmosphere of the war. Though in this poem positive scenes counterbalance the negative ones, the author effectively presents us the worst aspects of war and its effects. Infact right in the second stanza the reader has to confront himself with a nightmarish scene. A corpses’carpet lies on No Man’s Land. Silent corpses, with their hair covered in frost. The weather preventing those corpses from decaying. An admonition not to forget.

    • cristianaziraldo scrive:

      I am so very proud of you Silvia, you wrote a nice post, with almost no mistakes in it. At your age I was not as good as you are and I congratulate myself with you on your good mastery of the English language. 🙂

  29. Rossetti Elisabetta scrive:

    “Christmas Truce” is a poem written by the famous English poet Carol Ann Duffy. In this poem she describes the Christmas truce among the soldiers of the English,French, German armies.
    In the beginning of the poem the author emphasizes the hard conditions in which the soldiers had to live: it is cold, the barbed wire is frozen and even the liquid mud is solid. The soldiers have to stay huddled in their greatcoats in order to sleep. The verse “owl swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse” renders also the idea of widespread death and the image of a young man staring at the moon hoping to see his mother again is symbol of homesickness and loneliness. However the night the poem is talking about is not like the others: it’s Christmas eve. In this occasion the sense of belonging to mankind is stronger than war. German, English and French are all alike during this magic and awesome night: the soldiers sing hymns, folk songs, anthems, each one in their own language. For a while they can forget the tragic situation in which they are forced. The fact that they are different but at the same time all alike, is in this particolar night, is underlined by the use of the English language and the German language to report the Christmas songs (“Stille Nacht. Heilige Nacht. Alles schläft, einsam wacht”). They all think of their families at home, their wives and children and the days spent with them (I showed him a picture of my wife./ Ich zeigte ihm ein Foto meiner Frau./Sie sei schön, sagte er./ He thought her beautiful, he said”). This is another element that makes them feel brothers . These thoughts help them to go on day by day.
    The jux apposition between the moods of the soldiers described in the two parts of the poem underlines the fact that human beings nourish emotions and feelings and they are stronger than any war imposed by a power or authority. The soldiers’ desires, hopes, dreams are much stronger than cruelty or even than death.
    The poem is full of allitterations in order to emphazise certain situations:
    “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank”, “for Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz” the alliteration makes the different names ( they are typical English, German or Franch names) sound more alike and in this way underlining the fact that even if they belong to different countries they are all similar, just human beings far away from home, doing something absurd, extremely absurd as a war can be.
    Morover, in my opinion,the use of allitaration in this poem (“A boy from Stroud stared at a star”, “no shadows, shots from snipers, nowt to note or report”, and many others) it’s a technique, a means Carol Ann Duffy uses this in order to make the reader identify himself with the soldiers not just through images but even through sounds.

  30. Elena Ghersetti scrive:

    The poem begins in total silence. The guns are silent, and the dead lying in no man’s land, are silent too. The soldiers wait something, maybe Christmas, perhaps the end of the war, continuing to make the same gestures, like lighting the pipe or kissing the gold of their ring. There is something magical in the air, as if Christmas Eve had given new hope. However, the soldiers do not forget the horrors of war, and the multitude of ways in which they could die; Carol Ann Duffy lists them: they might drown in the mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporized. A song begins to be spread in no man’s land and in the trenches; it is a song of hope, that unites enemies, which are all human beings. German and English soldiers exchange greetings and things to eat like Tickler ‘s jam, cognac, sausages, cigars, beer, sauerkraut, then they play football and bury the dead who can finally rest in peace. It is a poem that makes us aware of life in the trenches, of the smallest details, the horrors of war, and of all the unnecessary deaths.
    The alliteration has a fundamental value in this poem: it focuses attention on certain key verses, and helps to better perceive the atmosphere of the trenches. Some examples are: “Freddie , Franz , Friedrich , Frank”, this alliteration directs the attention on the names of the soldiers, some Germans and other English, who lie on the ground, dead in the same place but as enemies and that will be buried without a name. Then “Frozen , foreigns fields” where the focus is on the feeling of coldness and inhospitable places. ” A boy from stroud stared a star ” emphasizes the sadness and homesick experienced by soldiers, while “men who would drown in mud” makes us aware of the almost certain death of the soldiers. Then we have ” Harry , Hugo , Hermann , Henry, Heinz “, which are other names of soldiers who despite being enemies want to get to know each other and with the alliteration “with wisthles , waves” and then “cheers , shouts , laughs ” Carol Ann Duffy shows the gestures with which they come in contact.

  31. Silvia Zongaro scrive:

    “The christmas truce” by Carol Ann Duffy talks about the truce that the soldiers of two fronts made on Christmas day 1914. Duffy describes the life in trenches, the men huddling together, lighting their pipes or waiting for sleep. But the poem describes even the horror of war and the damage it inflicted on the soldiers. The poet renders the horror of war through evocative images such as the barbed wire (that is use as a tinsel), the soldiers’ corpses unburied or describing what usually happen to the soldiers every day: “men who would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporized by falling shells”. In the poem there is a contrast of the sense of living given by the song sung by the soldiers, and the death given by the image of soldiers sat on the dead corpses.
    In the poem is shown Duffy’s skillful use of alliteration for example when she writes the name of the soldiers, giving them an identity, all with the same letter (“Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank..” or “Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz…”). Then she uses alliteration in the verse “the frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain” or “with whistle waves..” where emphasizes the meaning of the verses.

  32. Serena Riservato scrive:

    In this poem Carol Ann Duffy describes the Christmas truce in which a series of widespread, unofficial ceasefires took place along the Western Front around Christmas 1914, during World War I. Through the week leading up to Christmas, parties of German and British soldiers began to exchange seasonal greetings and songs between their trenches; on occasion, the tension was reduced to the point that individuals would walk across to talk to their opposite numbers bearing gifts. Troops from both sides were also friendly enough to play games of football with one another. This Truce is for the memory of the happy moments, but it ended in the worst way: they would start fighting again after having socialized with the enemies.
    The poem goes on to describe the horror of war through its evocative imagery of the damage it inflicted on the soldiers. Duffy wants to bring out the misery of the soldiers with phrases such as: “the dead lay still in No Man’s Land”, “an owl swooped on a rat on the glove of a corpse”, “then silence spread and touched each man like a hand”, “men who would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporized by falling shells”.
    All of them evoke anxiety that characterizes life in the trenches and it is shared by all soldiers, British and Germans.
    Carol Ann Duffy also uses a lot of alliteration and the most important I think they are: “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank . . .” and “Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz …” because every soldier is a human being, and even if they shared the same conditions, emotions, sufferings and hopes they are not killing machines. These names also indicate the brotherhood that has been created between the British troops and the German.

  33. Valentina Paronuzzi scrive:

    ”The Christmas Truce” of Carol Ann Duffy is a beautiful poem in wich the reader can understand how much similar where the German and the British soldiers.
    During the truce the two armies stay toghether, sing, exchange foods and things.
    This poem is a costant contrast between images of despair and of brotherhood.
    For example Duffy describes what happened to the soldiers during the fighting: ”Men would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporised by falling shells ”. And then she describes them singing, playing soccer and drinking togheter.
    With these images she wants to denounce the absurdity of the war and wants us to understand that men are the same, despite their origin, so they should live together in peace.

    Carol Ann Duffy uses often alliteration: with the list of the names ”Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank..” and ”Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz..”, both English and Germans, that creates a link between the two armies and also wants to give identity to them, not considering them just casualties.
    Then the alliteration in the lines “A boy from Stroud stared at a star” and ” The frozen, foreign fields were acres of pain.” want to symbolize the condition of loneliness of the soldiers.

  34. Sara Nicastro scrive:

    1) The most dangerous enemy for soldiers was loneliness. In the 4th stanza Duffy describes what each soldier does on his own, lost in his memories; meanwhile silence spreads all around. The image of the soldier is not the one of the hero, but the one of an ordinary man left alone amid war and pain who cares about the family he left, or the one of a person trying to get as much comfortable as he could manage, lighting pipes while waiting for a fight. In the 16th stanza the message is once again highlighted: soldiers from both sides were, at the end of the rifle, equal.

    2) The most important alliteration is about names, both english and german, which always begin with the same letter (Harry, Hugo, Hermann…). Another example is the alliteration of the word “moon” (the moon like a medal, the pinned moon) that becomes a sort of guide for the reader through the poem; last but not least, the alliteration of the same phrases but in different languages: in this way the reader has the real impression that soldiers were human beings as the others, after all, and maybe more similar because of what they passed through.

  35. D'angelo Antonino scrive:

    “The Christmas Truce” by Carol Ann Duffy is a powerful poem describing life in the trenches during WWI. With this poem the poet succeeds very well in engaging the reader and bringing him in 1914 in the midst of the war, particularly the night of Christmas eve in France, where English and German soldiers decided to lay down their guns for that night and celebrate together Christmas. Duffy reports us the actions of the soldiers, like some were lighting their pipes or were huddling and waited for sleep. These are simple actions that are not important for the war because they do not change the fortunes of war , but are important for the soldiers because they could still feel in some way the warmth of their house.
    But obviously there was a war going on and the poet brings us the horrors of the battlefield such as the unburied soldiers that were lying in No-Man’s land for days.
    The poet uses also alliterations to give more power to the images given by the words and these alliteration for example are: “Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank…” in the third line and “Harry, Hugo, Hermann, Henry, Heinz…” in the 45th line; the poet uses these names to give an identity to the dead soldiers that were lying in No-Man’s land, as mentioned in the first stanza.

  36. Giulia scrive:

    Carol Ann Duffy wrote this poem to remember the soldiers in the German and British trenches in World War I. She wrote this poem to underline the importance of the truce on Christmas Eve, how men were able to stop fighting and start to see each other as human beings and not as enemies. The language is simple, so everyone can understand the meaning of this cruel War. She described in this poem all the actions of the soldiers. She used alliteration like Freddie, Franz, and Friedrich, as a strong way to emphasize the cruelty of the war. She used also alliterations like frozen, foreign fields, waves, shout. Duffy used this kind of words to highlight the brutality of this conflict also through their sound. She used similarities to describe the action of the soldieries and thanks to them; you can fully understand the terrible situation of the poor people in the trenches. You can understand their thoughts, feelings, during this hard time. For example a young soldier looked at the stars and saw his mother’s eyes. This makes us think about soldier’s hope to go on and believe that one day they would see their love, family, friends again. At Christmas 1914, changed something for one day. In fact because of the Truce the soldiers could experience some positive feelings for a very short time. Soldiers began to sing and wish each other merry Christmas in their language, German or English. And for a night they were friends, very close to each other. In line eight, she writes: ’ men, who would drown in mud, be gassed, or shot, or vaporised by falling shell, or alive to tell..’
    With this line, she gave us a real picture of what was the War while Propaganda did not explain the problems; connected to the War it was a terrible long conflict, the World War I.
    Balbinot Giulia

  37. Giulia Bertacco scrive:

    1) I think that the objective of a museum dedicated to war photography is that of showing people the sufference and the pain provocated by wars, in order to make us remember that many people die because of war and unfortunately many of them are just children, as well as to understand that war is just something dishuman that doesn’t bring anything good. I can’t imagine that in the world there are people who have the courage to kill other people that are human beings like them.
    2) I appreciate the third video, because I like the song by Michael Jackson and I think that it is the right song for the video, because it invites people to love, respect and help each other.
    Through this song, Michael Jackson tells people that they mustn’t think that there is no hope to change things, because bad things can turn into good things, but we have to collaborate, to be united in order to make them happen, because when a problem is huge a single man can’t solve it, but with the help and force of other people like him he can do it.
    In my opinion, the video is well done, because, by showing us some images that refer to the word of Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, it lets us understand better the poem.
    The images as well as the song are very powerfull.

    3) I was quite right in my considerations. There are some aspects that I couldn’t grasp, such as:
    – The idea of church as a place of peace, where the photographer goes to escape war, while for the people in images there is no escape.
    – The phrase “ A PRIEST PREPARING TO INTONE A MASS”, that stand for religion, that allows war to continue.
    – Rural England is the complete opposite of the kind of images the photographer is developing.
    4) I think that you have decided to conclude with this poem, because it make us remember that the soldiers and people, who die in war are not the only one, who suffer, but also their families, relatives and all the people that look at the photos taken by war photographers, because war causes only sufferance and death, nothing good, and I think that the poem wants to invite people to promote peace and banish war. I approve of this choice, because I appreciate this poem by Carol Ann Duffy.

  38. Giulia Bertacco scrive:

    1) The horror of damages war inflicted on soldiers is expressed by the image of them in mud, gassed, shot or vaporized by falling shells.
    2) The poem is full of alliterations, such as:
    – “The frozen, foreign field were acres of pain”
    – “No shadows, shots from snipers, nowt to note or report”
    -“Flickering flames from the other side danced in his eyes”
    -“A boy from Stroud stared at a star”
    -In the list of the names of the soldiers: Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank…
    ( through this list Carol Ann Duffy wants to give an identity to this soldiers, because they are human being)

  39. Lucrezia scrive:

    If we think about the sentence “Christmas truce in the trenches”, it could seem a contraddiction bacause to reflect upon the war, our mind fills of words such as: bloodshed, guns, death, pain. But in the poem “The “Christmas Truce”, Carol Ann Duffy gives a ray of hope. She wanted to remember the soldiers in the German and British trenches who became temporaly friends during World War I.
    We can understand this from the first line: “the guns were quiet”.
    In effect she describes what the soldiers hoped, their feelings; they wanted the war to finish, they were tired to see dead bodies everywhere, to suffer, to feel pain, to cry, .. to die.. So, perhaps they always prayed God for the war to end, they dreamed a truce , they wanted peace, and in Carol Ann Duffy’s poem we can grasp all these feelings; this poem is the realisation of the dream of the soldiers.
    “The Christmas truce” during the winter 1914 was the dream come true, it is a suspension of death, it is the proof that God exists.
    It is what made the soldiers continue to fight, because in that day they remembered to have a dignity, perhaps they remembered that they were able to smile again. They knew the truce would not last for a long time, but they also knew that for 24 hours the were friends as if they were not in the battlefield.
    I think Carol Ann Duffy is particulary forward-looking, she writes a poem in the poem, Christmas Truce” is metapoetry. She wantt to make us clear what a poet wrote in a trench.
    We can find it expicitly for example when in the third stanza she states: “ a soldier-poet noted it down”. The poem describes all the actions the soldiers did in that magic day. They played soccer, exchanged cigarettes and sang togheter.
    Carol Ann Duffy quoted the words of the Christmas carol in order to render the poem more meaningful, to involve the reader and to make clear to him that the songs.for the soldier in the trenches, were source of relief, because in music there is not inequality, as a matter of fact, in that day they are not enemies.
    Then I really appreciated the fact that she mentions the name of soldiers, she wants to give them an identity, for example in the eleventh stanza “ Harry, Hugu, Hermann, Heinz.. “ She wants to remember them they are human beings and the war can take away their life but not their soul and dignity.

  40. Virginia Nichilo scrive:

    Christmas in itself is a magical time, one you spend with family and friends, a time in which to feel loved; but when such a humbling and rejoicing moment is powerful enough to overcome war it acquires an even deeper meaning. The soldiers fighting in World War 1 in winter 1917 were able to experience this heart-warming experience, which is described by the Scottish poet Carol Ann Duffy.
    The poem “The Christmas Truce” begins with the description of a silent and looming battlefield and we are immediately skyrocketed into the horrific setting of the trenches. By describing the soldiers’ routine and their actions, Duffy makes us feel close to them and their situation.
    The 4th stanza in a turning point in the poem because it shows that even though the soldiers live in an unbearable situation they still feel hope, they are still normal people who get excited at the thought that Christmas is coming. Carol Ann Duffy shows us who a simple song can bring hope to soldiers who have nothing to hold on to. The British and German soldiers exchange pictures of their wives and girlfriends at home, they share their food and they sing along together.
    In this powerful poem Carol Ann Duffy succeeds in disclosing the horror of the war but also the humanity that lays behind the soldiers walls, which had to be put up to protect themselves from a war they did not believe in.
    Alliteration plays a fundamental role in Carol Ann Duffy’s poem. The most symbolic alliteration in that of the letter “F” in the third line of the 2nd stanza, the names Freddie, Franz, Friedrich, Frank could be German but also English, but their nationality is relevantly important, the poet wants to underline the fact that they all lay dead in no man’s land.