It's not specifically a First World War poem, I don't think - more a general 'war poem'. It's written by a woman named Gillian Clarke, who would, I suppose, be termed a 'modern poet.' ... To say the least, I thought the poem rather pathetic, lacking in substance and unworthy of it's subject.
I want to comment in the interests of accuracy.
Gillian Clarke is very much a modern poet and is still alive. I find her Anglo-Welsh works powerful and effective. It's not specifically a First World War poem, I don't think ... she had been asked to write something on the Vietnam War,
‘The Field Mouse’ reflects her consciousness of the war in Bosnia, which was happening at the time she wrote the poem. She sees a link between the life in the Welsh countryside around her and the life in Bosnia: it is late summer, the time for harvesting in both. Harvesting is both productive and destructive. This isn’t a forum for detailed literary criticism, so I won’t discuss her choice of language and style, but the parallels she makes in her imagery seem valid. For example, the buzzing of insects echoes the roar of the military planes practising overhead, which takes her thoughts towards war; the painful deaths of small animals under the blades is, to her, a reminder of the pain and deaths of civilians: both are witnessed by children who have to come to terms with death and destruction caused by others.
She also states elsewhere that the Welsh phrase for haymaking is ‘killing hay’. This is supported by the phrases ‘the fields hurt’ and ‘the field lies bleeding’. As a Welsh speaker, she would have been simultaneously conscious of the two meanings.The first stanza described how she was out in the countryside, watching a combine harvester at work, when she came upon some dead field mice
(Mouse.) She doesn’t come across the mouse; the little nest made by cupped hands and its dying, suffering occupant is brought to her by children. She has been trying to forget the awfulness of the war in Bosnia, but the suffering of the mouse draws her memory back to what she’d been trying to put out of her mind. As the harvest ends, her garden is a refuge for animals which have fled the destruction: refugees.these mice also looked so 'innocent’
It is one mouse. She doesn’t use the word 'innocent’ at all in the poem. As far as the mouse is concerned, she is acutely aware of its ‘agony big as itself’ and its vulnerability. Innocence or otherwise is not the point. Even the guilty feel pain. The substance of the poem is her reaction as a human to the pain of the animal and the pain of human beings in warfare.The remainder of the poem proceeded to liken the fallen soldiers to the mice.
She doesn’t mention soldiers. The concept of deaths in war could equally well apply to civilians. That’s how I read it.
Gillian Clarke had no specific interest in her subject matter
As she doesn’t specify the Bosnian war, the parallels between war and the destructive nature of haymaking could apply to other wars. The nightmare vision at the end seems to me to be that of a woman very disturbed by the appalling war in another part of Europe, rather than someone with ‘no specific interest’.
One's response to a poem is personal. However, specific paraphrases, criticisms and condemnations need to be made with an eye to academic rigour. Oh, and its
( = possession) has no apostrophe.