I'm re:ing Rachael's post, by the way. I feel like I'm re:ing everyone, though, because the downside to waiting until 29 minutes before the posting deadline is that pretty much nothing you say can be original at this point.
I kind of prefer the poem at face value, as a million others have said already. I know it's supposed to be about war (but, again, should we say "supposed to be"? Is any poetry "supposed to be" anything?) but I honestly like the imagery more when I imagine rough adolescents as opposed to firing cannons. I'm sorry if that sounds shallow, or ignorant, or disrespectful. It probably does.
I'll begin with an anecdote. Coincidentally, I recently found this stupid notebook I used to keep in high school. I was most prolific during the fall of sophomore year, when I recounted, with embarrassingly ornate turns of phrase and flowery language, little scenes of sad debauchery with people I mostly hated. They were kids that didn't know any better, kids that spoke whatever was on their mind (17,) kids that did not give a shit for wit (7,) kids that did whatever was in their pants (18,) kids that were not in any way refined. They all thought they were so cool and invincible and rebellious, but seriously. I think I was able to kind of delude myself into thinking these shitty evenings with pathetic fifteen-year-old quasi-drug addicts were somehow picturesque (like the poem,) but they really weren't at all.
At any rate, what I'm trying to say here is that we all have this deep, visceral magnetism towards the roughness of these boys, these bright young things who act with impulse and do not conform. I (and I may not be alone here) picture these boys (and the girls who buck and bite (2)) as beautiful and dangerous, almost. I want to romanticize these characters in the same way that much of upper-middle-class America romanticizes things like cocaine use. Rachael describes the lifestyle as "erotic and alluring," which I think is perfect. I went to high school with a lot of kids like this. I think we glamorize the lifestyle of illicit, of being edgy but not off the deep end, of being rough around the edges but still somewhat glossy- "living fast," "living on the edge," "living dangerously," can be really appealing, I guess, especially if you're as naïve as I have been.
ALSO. Re: Grace. I think the "not refined" as opposed to "unrefined" is deliberate. Sort of like how we say that "disinterested" is different from "uninterested" in that it represents a conscious decision to NOT be interested, rather than an incidental lack of interest as "uninterested" does. The boys he means do not try to be refined. Their lack of elegance, is not accidental. They move with intent, hump the girls (4) who buck and bite (2) with purpose. They may not be model citizens, but they have impact - they change history, shaking the mountains when they dance (20.) Assertive in their lack of sophistication, they are not refined, and they are not apologizing for it.