Merrill Glass's But You Didn't, Essential Revision Notes

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Table of Contents

Context 4

Merrill Glass 4

The Vietnam War 4

Dear John 4

‘But You Didn’t’ 5

Summary 6

Annotation 7

Context

Merrill Glass

Little is known about the poet Merrill Glass’s life and there is some debate as to whether she is the true author of the poem ‘But You Didn’t’ – perhaps a reason why there is little information about her.

The Vietnam War

The Vietnam War was a long, costly and divisive conflict that pitted the communist government of North Vietnam against South Vietnam and its principal ally, the United States. The conflict was intensified by the ongoing Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union.

More than 3 million people (including over 58,000 Americans) were killed in the Vietnam War, and more than half of the dead were Vietnamese civilians. Opposition to the war in the United States bitterly divided Americans, even after President Richard Nixon ordered the withdrawal of U.S. forces in 1973. Communist forces ended the war by seizing control of South Vietnam in 1975, and the country was unified as the Socialist Republic of Vietnam the following year.

The Vietnam War and active U.S. involvement in the war began in 1954, though ongoing conflict in the region had stretched back several decades.

Dear John

A Dear John letter is a letter written to a man by his wife or romantic partner to inform him their relationship is over because she has found another lover. The man is often a soldier stationed overseas.

‘But You Didn’t’ is a poem that reverses this genre. It is a letter from romantic partner to soldier in which she openly regrets some of the mistakes she made during their relationship and reflects on the fact that it is too late for her to make it up to her partner. In his own tragic way, he left her; he died in Vietnam.

While the exact origins of the phrase are unknown, it is commonly believed to have been coined by Americans during World War II. John was the...

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