Wallace Stevens's poem "The Death of a Soldier" illustrates life and death in both the natural and human world. Steven's structure and rhythm contribute to the poem. The stern tone, disorder of trochees and uncertainties: fuel the reader's awareness plus desire to know. Negative capability is effective when used to promote thought. Every stanza is in the tercet form. The rhythm of each triplet carefully slows down with shortening lines. The words act out the movements of death ("contracts," "falls," "stops"). However, they also play with an idea of continual motion ("As in a season of autumn," "The clouds go, nevertheless, /In their direction). The grim death of a soldier is shown along with the continual death of nature. .
Stevens uses references to seasons to indicate moods and feelings. Spring and summer are associated with life. The first line's use of "contracts" carries also the connotation of a mother's violent contractions in birth. Autumn, with its blood red leaves "is expected" to eventually come. It thwarts the life of spring. However, nature is only preparing to renew itself. Mutability "is expected" also in human life. The passive voice of "is expected" shows that death is inevitable. All people must pass. It has happened in the past, and is an anticipated ongoing cycle. .
When the soldier's "wind stops," his heart ceases contracting. Different from autumn, he will not have rebirth. Death for human life is final. Humans have a "contract" that runs out. "Death is absolute and without memorial," the soldier dies in war alone. He falls on the battlefield like a leaf from a tree. The second stanza importantly states how his death calls for no pomp. Left out are ceremony rituals of his culture for a proper burial. "As in" establishes a connection between the soldier's death and the death of the season. "As in autumn" is more effective than simply "in" autumn would work.