As a poet, Owen was always keen to represent the pity of the destruction caused by war to his fellow men. Through this poem, Owen takes his readers to witness the horrifying situation in which war destructs youths.
The poem was written in 1918, a few months prior to the end of the War. The poem is written in the form of three quatrains wherein the poet speaks of arms and its effects on the innocence of humanity. The poem depicts a young soldier undergoing training for the Great War the speaker in this poem asks a young boy to handle a bayonet-blade personified as a ‘madman’ hungry for blood and flesh having an evil and cold temper. The speaker urges the boy to stroke the bullets and hand over the cartridges that are made of fine zinc. Again, we see that the bullets are also personified as ones that long to tear apart those young hearts that will be fighting in the war. Even the cartridges symbolise “sharpness of grief and death.” The first two stanzas concentrated on the ‘arms’ where the speaker is either arousing interest in the young mind or else training and making the young boy aware of the dangers in the War where only violence reigns. In a way, the two stanzas reveal the potential harm that weapons can cause.
The third stanza, however, reveals a contrasting figure, that is the boy is set against the deadly weapon. In comparison to the weapons that are as sharp as grief and death, the boy is fit for laughing and his teeth are not as wild as the weapons: “his teeth seem for laughing round an apple/ There lurk no claws behind his fingers supple”. The last two lines: “And God will grow no talons at his heels/Nor antlers through the thickness of his curls” is suggestive of the fact that the boy is not a devil. Through this poem, Owen brings to light how men are their own enemies. It is by encouraging the young and innocent to use weapons that a section of war-loving people corrupts mankind.
One significant aspect of Owen’s rhyming pattern is ‘consonant rhyme’. For instance, in the poem “Arms and the Boy”, the following is to be noted: ‘blade-blood’, ‘flash-flesh’ and ‘leads-lads’, etc. are all examples of his use of consonant rhyme where the consonant remains fixed and only the vowel is changed.