shilling a day

  • roxcyn

    Senior Member
    USA
    American English [AmE]
    The soldiers fight (not fights since it is more than one) for honor/freedom of their country. A shilling a day. It is (was?) a coin they call in UK. If you look it up on www.yourdictionary.com I am sure there is a definition.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    I believe that the line is ironic.
    Blokes generally do not join the army seeking glory.
    It is the only way for many young people to obtain a regular income.
    I think that this is what the line may be about.
    Soldiers fight because of the regular income. Politicians fight for glory while soldiers fight for survival.

    .,,
     

    pioussoul

    Banned
    Chinese
    I believe that the line is ironic.
    Blokes generally do not join the army seeking glory.
    It is the only way for many young people to obtain a regular income.
    I think that this is what the line may be about.
    Soldiers fight because of the regular income. Politicians fight for glory while soldiers fight for survival.

    .,,
    Well put. I'm moved and therefore convinced by your insightful and eloquent comments.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Well put. I'm moved and therefore convinced by your insightful and eloquent comments.
    I do love the power poetry possesses to compress so much into so few words and give multiple meanings depending on interpretation.

    .,,
    Poetry reveals more about us than the poet.
     

    waspsmakejam

    Member
    UK, English
    Michael_cycle,

    A shilling a day was the pay for a private in the British Army during the First World War. I agree with winklepicker that "fights" may be deliberate mimicry of the uneducated and/or lower class voice of an ordinary solider. Or it could be a typo, of course!

    The literary (originally rhetorical) technique used here is a type of zeugma called a syllepsis. Don't panic, I'll explain!

    A zeugma is where a common word (adjective or verb) is used to yoke different phrases into a single sentence or period. For example "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears" is a zeugma. I forget which sort of zeugma, but the important thing is the different phrases are parallel in meaning and grammar so it is not a syllepsis.

    A syllepsis is a zeugma where the phrases do not have parallel meanings or grammar. A very famous example is "she was carried away in a flood of tears and a sedan chair" (she is either Queen Dido in Virgil's Aeneid or Miss Bolo in The Pickwick Papers by Charles Dickens).

    To analyse a syllepsis, first look at the meaning of the two phrases seperately

    "The soldiers fights for glory"

    The soldiers are fighting so that they or their country can get recognition and honour, becuase fighting is glorious.

    "The soliders fights for a shilling a day"

    The soliders fight in exchange for pay, which is a shilling a day whilst fit and on active service. If this is a poem from the First World War, a shilling a day was not a lot and the low pay was not good for morale to say the least. Women in munitions factories could earn more than this, for instance.

    Then look at the syllepsis as a whole. Any syllepsis has the effect of jarring the reader or listener into a double-take. Sometimes the effect is comical, sometimes whimsical, sometimes ironic. Perhaps in your example the soliders would not fight for glory without the pay, or vice versa. Perhaps the first sense is the official story, the second the truth from the soliders' perspective.

    Deciding what you think the poet means, or what you think it means, is probably easier with the aid of the rest of poem. You can look for other examples of parallel phrases or voices, not necessarily zeugmas. But certainly the poets intention is to make you think about both phrases, and the balance between them.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Unless it is a genuine adoption of lower register speech it could be a typo in the other way.
    The soldier fights for glory, and a shilling a day.

    A google of all combinations came up dry.

    .,,
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    G'day Emma,
    I had a quick squiz at the Barrack Room Ballads but couldn't find the reference.
    What I did find was a poem called 'A Shillin' a Day' that seems to say that a pension for a retired soldier was a shillin' a day.
    Is it possible that the quoted poem is saying that soldiers fight in the attempt to obtain their shillin' a day pension?

    Robert
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    Thanks for that, Robert. If, as has been said, soldiers' pay was a shilling a day, I would not have thought they would get the same amount as a pension:D.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Even today some Australian soldiers who are medically retired as Hurt On Duty are entitled to a pension that is only just below that of a serving soldier and as they are taxed at a different rate the end result is parity.
    In the NSW Police Force an officer who is retired medically unfit Hurt On Duty who was exposed to risks that a normal worker would not normally be exposed to is awarded a pension at a rate that is effectively 15% higher than the salary at the time of medical retirement.
    Many societies generously reward their injured warriors as an inducement to prospective warriors to sign up.

    Robert
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    Granted, Robert, and quite right too, but I still doubt that a " common soldier" in the olden days would receive such generous treatment. This is pure conjecture, of course.:D
     

    --Monty---

    Member
    English, England.
    Waspsmakejam:

    It's not a syllepsis, is it?

    Isn't that where one verb is applied to two nouns but only one makes sense. For example Henry V when Fluellen says "Kill the poys and the luggage", that would be, because you can't kill luggage.

    In this case you can fight both for glory and for a shilling a day, so it is not syllepsis but just plain zeugma.

    Similarly the example "she was carried away in a flood of tears and a sedan chair" is not syllepsis as it is possible to for "carried away" to apply to both nouns and make sense. Another example would be from Pope's The Rape of the Lock, "or stain her honour, or her new brocade". All of these are examples of zeugma but not syllepsis. You are right about the effect of it though, it is jarring and uncomfortable.

    Can you correct me if I'm wrong? Thanks.
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Similarly the example "she was carried away in a flood of tears and a sedan chair" is not syllepsis
    No - it's zeugma isn't it? And doesn't zeugma require that the two senses be utterly different - with comic effect, as above?

    "she was carried away in a flood of tears and a sedan chair" = zeugma
    "he fought for glory and a shilling a day" = just an ordinary sentence

    N'est-ce pas?
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Granted, Robert, and quite right too, but I still doubt that a " common soldier" in the olden days would receive such generous treatment. This is pure conjecture, of course.:D
    It wasn't uncommon for common soldiers to be given a share of the booty, back in the olde days but you are right, Capere XXII probably existed back then to make sure that no one ever qualified.

    .,,
     

    travellingsam

    New Member
    Hindi and India
    Originally it is not " the soldiers" but "The soldier" and it is not Ironic. This line says that a soldier doesn't fight for the money because at the day end, he is getting only a shilling. He fights for the glory of the country because that, for a soldier is bigger than anything.
     

    . 1

    Banned
    Australian Australia
    Originally it is not " the soldiers" but "The soldier" and it is not Ironic. This line says that a soldier doesn't fight for the money because at the day end, he is getting only a shilling. He fights for the glory of the country because that, for a soldier is bigger than anything.
    How do you know it is not ironic? It sounds to me to be saturated with irony.
    Are you aware of the source poem?
    To my mind there is nothing heroic or glorious for the common soldier in the dusty, dirty, dank, terrifying moments that stretch to hours of the fighting identified by blood and guts and the smell of death and the snippit we have been given to examine seems to my mind to have a similar tone.

    .,,
     

    emma42

    Senior Member
    British English
    The juxtaposition of "glory" and "a shilling a day" seem to me to be ineluctably ironic, and possibly zeugmic (?!).

    Glory - what the soldier is told he is fighting for, what little boys imagine, what the public are told, the subject of countless works of art (widest sense).

    A shilling a day - (a very small part of the) reality. This is what the soldier is actually risking his life for.
     

    winklepicker

    Senior Member
    English (UK)
    Originally it is not " the soldiers" but "The soldier" and it is not Ironic. This line says that a soldier doesn't fight for the money because at the day end, he is getting only a shilling. He fights for the glory of the country because that, for a soldier is bigger than anything.
    Oh goodee! The voice of authority. What is your source please?

    The juxtaposition of "glory" and "a shilling a day" seem to me to be ineluctably ironic, and possibly zeugmic (?!).

    Glory - what the soldier is told he is fighting for, what little boys imagine, what the public are told, the subject of countless works of art (widest sense).

    A shilling a day - (a very small part of the) reality. This is what the soldier is actually risking his life for.
    Dear Emma,

    Your logic is unarguable. :) Zeugmoid it is.

    PS I'm not about to argue with anyone who uses ineluctably!
     

    waspsmakejam

    Member
    UK, English
    Waspsmakejam:

    It's not a syllepsis, is it?

    Isn't that where one verb is applied to two nouns but only one makes sense. For example Henry V when Fluellen says "Kill the poys and the luggage", that would be, because you can't kill luggage.

    In this case you can fight both for glory and for a shilling a day, so it is not syllepsis but just plain zeugma.

    Similarly the example "she was carried away in a flood of tears and a sedan chair" is not syllepsis as it is possible to for "carried away" to apply to both nouns and make sense. Another example would be from Pope's The Rape of the Lock, "or stain her honour, or her new brocade". All of these are examples of zeugma but not syllepsis. You are right about the effect of it though, it is jarring and uncomfortable.

    Can you correct me if I'm wrong? Thanks.
    I'm not qualified to argue with you, I'm afraid Monty! I'm an entirely self-taught poetry geek. I was working from personal notes that don't show what my source is, as they pre-date my acquisition of study skills. I was specifically looking for the word for Virgil's phrase though as its one of my favourite lines in the Aeneid, so if its not a syllepsis I really need to know which of the other sorts of zeugma it is.

    Wasps
     
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