“Leningrad Olds only accentuates this horrifying war. Aside

 “Leningrad Cemetery, Winter of 1941”, by Sharon Olds, uses many metaphors to give a more defined image of the scene that is trying to be depicted. Specifically, metaphors like the comparison of dead bodies to cocoons or trees are used often in this piece. The overall tone of this poem is obviously depressing and seems to only pay attention to death. This is because Olds writes about the Battle of Leningrad, a 900-day siege of the city during World War II. Everything from the brutal cold to the widespread death described by Olds only accentuates this horrifying war. Aside from all this, Olds does not write this piece just to describe the effects of war. Rather, she uses several metaphors, as mentioned earlier, to further a deeper message.      Olds starts off with a statement clarifying that there are several dead bodies that cannot be buried. This gives the reader an automatic image of the aftermath of a war. She describes groups of the bodies, some as “bound with rope like the tree’s ball of roots when it is to be planted”, and others as “stiff as cocoons that will split down the center when the new life inside is prepared”.  These descriptions, although somewhat morbid to think of, count as being a metaphor for the afterlife. There is clearly some form of potential/distant life inhibiting these corpses, which perfectly sets the stage for a question of “what is this ‘afterlife’ like?”. Olds continues her depiction by conveniently answering. She uses imagery that presents a scene of anguish and deprivation for the bodies due to their exposure to the merciless frozen tundra of the Soviet Union. So from this it is clear that the bodies are not enjoying their peace in the afterlife. Olds then furthers this metaphor by depicting the bodies as reaching out for help from under their rope bound cloth, as if asking the reader to help them back to life. She uses the diction “a hand reaching out with no sign of peace, wanting to come back”, almost insinuating that while the currently dead were being tortured with sub-zero temperatures and “bread made of glue and sawdust” in their lives, the afterlife they have been sent to is not any better. Olds envisions this as a plea to come back to this life, subsequently allowing for her to use metaphors of nature to inspire that very lust for life amongst the corpses.     The moral of this poem is that life is precious, and that it should never be taken for granted. This is because the whole poem is a comparison between life and death. Olds makes a clear statement, with the heavy use of nature metaphors, that the people who have passed away are still teeming with potential energy and would do anything possible to come back to life, even under the worst conditions, in order to love, to be loved, and to be with the people they love once more.