16 pages 32 minutes read

Dunya Mikhail

The War Works Hard

Nonfiction | Poem | Adult | Published in 2005

A modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, SuperSummary offers high-quality Study Guides with detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, and more.

Literary Devices


“The War Works Hard” is written in free verse, in one long, unbroken stanza. “Free verse” means that the poem does not follow a set meter or rhyme scheme, allowing the speaker to describe the poem’s events in a fluid and unregimented way. The poem’s lack of rhyme and minimal use of punctuation creates a sense of dizzying momentum, as the speaker carries the reader from image to image and from idea to idea without pause. This momentum seems to reflect the relentless pacing of the war itself. Meanwhile, the lack of multiple stanzas creates an unbroken wall of text, impressing upon the reader the relentless, inescapable nature of the war itself: just as the war is everywhere and present at every time without reprieve, so too does the visual appearance of the poem’s text create a sense of overwhelming force.


The speaker in “The War Works Hard” never specifies which war she is describing, or where exactly the war is taking place. The anonymity of both the conflict and the geographical

Related Titles

By Dunya Mikhail