Elegy of Modern Warfare: Max Hjortsberg's "Drone Poem"

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About this sample

About this sample


Words: 647 |

Page: 1|

4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Words: 647|Page: 1|4 min read

Published: Jun 13, 2024

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Body Paragraph
  3. Conclusion


Max Hjortsberg's "Drone Poem" is a poignant exploration of the modern warfare landscape, offering a literary lens through which to examine the psychological and ethical ramifications of drone technology. This poem is not merely a reflection of technological advancement but a critical commentary on the disconnection and desensitization inherent in contemporary conflict. Through a careful analysis of thematic elements, literary devices, and narrative structure, this essay seeks to unravel the layers of meaning embedded in Hjortsberg's work and to understand its relevance in the broader context of war literature.

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Body Paragraph

One of the most striking aspects of "Drone Poem" is its thematic concern with the alienation and dehumanization caused by drone warfare. Hjortsberg juxtaposes the cold, mechanical nature of drones with the human cost of their deployment. This contrast is evident in lines that describe the drone as "metallic birds, devoid of song," highlighting the lifeless and impersonal nature of these machines. The imagery of a "metallic bird" invokes a sense of artificiality and detachment from the natural world, reinforcing the idea that drone technology strips away the human element from the act of war.

Hjortsberg employs various literary devices to deepen the impact of his themes. The use of enjambment throughout the poem creates a sense of continuous, unending motion, mirroring the relentless surveillance and strikes carried out by drones. For instance, the line "over landscapes unknown, / the eye in the sky never blinks," flows seamlessly into the next, emphasizing the ceaseless watchfulness of these machines. Additionally, the poem's sparse and fragmented structure can be seen as a reflection of the fragmented lives and landscapes left in the wake of drone strikes.

The narrative perspective in "Drone Poem" also plays a crucial role in conveying its message. Hjortsberg adopts a detached, almost clinical tone, which mirrors the emotional detachment experienced by drone operators. This narrative choice is particularly powerful as it forces the reader to engage with the poem on a more intellectual level, prompting a reflection on the moral implications of drone warfare. The line "a button pressed, life extinguished," is delivered with a chilling nonchalance, illustrating the ease with which destruction is wrought from a distance. This detachment is further highlighted by the lack of personal pronouns, which serves to dehumanize both the operators and their targets, reducing them to mere cogs in the machinery of war.

Moreover, Hjortsberg's poem can be seen as a critique of the broader societal implications of drone warfare. The anonymity and invisibility of drones create a power dynamic in which the perpetrators of violence are shielded from its consequences. This is poignantly captured in the lines "no faces, no names, / just coordinates on a screen," underscoring the impersonal nature of modern conflict. The poem suggests that this detachment not only dehumanizes the victims but also desensitizes the operators and society at large to the horrors of war.

In addition to its thematic depth, "Drone Poem" is rich in symbolic meaning. The recurring motif of the "eye in the sky" serves as a powerful symbol of surveillance and control. This omnipresent gaze evokes a sense of paranoia and vulnerability, reflecting the psychological impact of living under constant surveillance. The "eye" symbolizes not only the physical presence of drones but also the broader implications of a surveillance state, where privacy is eroded, and individuals are reduced to data points.

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Max Hjortsberg's "Drone Poem" is a compelling critique of the ethical and psychological dimensions of modern warfare. Through its thematic exploration of alienation and dehumanization, its use of literary devices, and its symbolic richness, the poem offers a profound commentary on the implications of drone technology. Hjortsberg's work challenges readers to reflect on the moral complexities of remote warfare and its impact on both individuals and society. In an era where technology increasingly mediates human experience, "Drone Poem" serves as a poignant reminder of the need to preserve our humanity amidst the machinery of war.

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Dr. Charlotte Jacobson

Cite this Essay

Elegy of Modern Warfare: Max Hjortsberg’s “Drone Poem”. (2024, Jun 11). GradesFixer. Retrieved July 15, 2024, from
“Elegy of Modern Warfare: Max Hjortsberg’s “Drone Poem”.” GradesFixer, 11 Jun. 2024,
Elegy of Modern Warfare: Max Hjortsberg’s “Drone Poem”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 15 Jul. 2024].
Elegy of Modern Warfare: Max Hjortsberg’s “Drone Poem” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2024 Jun 11 [cited 2024 Jul 15]. Available from:
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