Summary of Small Pain in My Chest by Michael Mack

Small Pain in My Chest by Michael Mack was read over to 5000 people, at the funeral of the first Blackhawk helicopter pilot, who was shot down in Iraq. It is also read at the Vietnam Veterans meetings. The poem shows the pain suffered by the soldiers in a war. It also portrays the human spirits in times of war and crisis. The summary of the poem Small Pain in My Chest is given below.

Stanza 1:
The narrator comes across a soldier who was sitting under a tree, peacefully. As the narrator walks towards him, the soldier summons him. The narrator sees a number of soldiers lying dead, who had fought a long and difficult battle throughout the night and had died in the battle.

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Stanza 2:
The young soldier was smiling at its best to hide his pain and asks the narrator if he could help him. He says he needs a sip of water as he had been fighting all night without rest and is having a small pain in his chest.

Stanza 3:
The narrator finds a large reddish-brown stain of blood on the soldier’s shirt. The stain is a mixture of his blood and the local dirt. The soldier consoles the narrator that his wound is not a big one and he considers himself luckier than his fellow soldiers as they have already died whereas he had survived with only a small pain in his chest.

Stanza 4:
The soldier smiles again and was feeling weak, he says that he is feeling weak because of fatigue and old age. He tells the narrator that though there was sunshine, he was feeling cold. The soldier then describes his experience of the battle which took place at night. He says that he along with a troop of two hundred soldiers was climbing a hill and as they reached the top, there was an explosion and then he felt this small pain in his chest. It seemed that the soldier was injured in the explosion and the pain was of the injury that he went through.

Stanza 5:
The soldier tried to help himself and looked around but he only found big craters in the earth due to explosion and the bodies of dead soldiers all around him. He further says that he was continuously firing at his enemy but could not for long due to the small pain in his chest.

Stanza 6:
The soldier thanks the narrator when the latter gives him a bottle of water and says that he was grateful to him. The soldier smiles at the narrator which makes the narrator feel that it was the brightest smile he had ever seen. It was because the soldier was hiding the pain which he was undergoing with his smile. The soldier then feels bad and tells the narrator that though he is an enthusiastic and big man, still he was defeated and left with a small pain in his chest.

Stanza 7:
The soldier thinks about his family. He thinks about the reaction of his wife and his mother if they would see him sitting there. He did not know what his wife would think of him when she would find a man of such courage and energy, defeated by a small pain in his chest. He thinks about his mother then. His mother while holding him close to her chest would never had imagined that his son would be defeated in the battlefield and would sit there with a small pain in his chest.

Stanza 8:
The soldiers looks up at the sun and sees darkness everywhere. He finds the sun growing dim and darkness engulfing the day which has just began. Then he tells the narrator that before he would go any further, he wants to take some rest. After saying this, the soldier dies from the pain in his chest. The narrator feels that because of the heavy pain from such fatal wounds, the soldier was losing his senses and was seeing darkness all around him.

Stanza 9:
The narrator cannot recall what happened after that. The narrator had put his arms around the dead soldier and as he pulled him towards himself, the narrator could feel their wounds pressed against each other- the large one in the narrator’s heart against the small one in the soldier’s chest. The narrator was deeply agonized by the suffering of the soldier who finally dies from the small pain in his chest.

About the Poet:
Michael Mack is an American poet. He grew up in Missouri and served the Air Force for five years. He is now a member of the Florida State Poetry Association. He continues to give readings and teach poetry appreciation at the county outreach centres. His famous poems include: The Last Words of Mary Dodd, Counting Clouds, The Hallways of My Mind, False Reality and The Robot.

Go through the Solved Questions

Show how “Small Pain in My Chest’ highlights the horrors of the war and the soldier’s agony.

Describe briefly the experience of the narrator on the battlefield and what he realizes in the end.

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  1. Jumbodium

    November 3, 2014 at 11:54 am

    This what a soldier is. Beautiful poem with great lines.

  2. Sanj

    December 4, 2014 at 1:35 pm

    The poem is really nice but the thing is that I hav an assignment on this poem and to tell the truth I don’t noe wat to write : (

    • Saish

      November 30, 2015 at 1:06 pm

      even i had a project on this poem,i completed it using various websites

  3. Rohit Biswas

    January 8, 2015 at 12:51 pm

    i like this poem

  4. Rohit Biswas

    January 8, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    i liked this poem

  5. Sradha singh

    February 11, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    I loved this poem…

  6. Amritangshu Bandyopadhyay

    May 28, 2015 at 3:15 am

    Very touching indeed !Read an year earlier and certainly one for every kid to read

  7. Samaksh

    June 10, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    I like this poem a lot. It’s very sensitive and it gives you a meaning that wars are bad.

  8. Esha Mirza

    July 11, 2015 at 5:40 am

    I liked the way the summary is given

  9. abinaya

    July 30, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    it is very sentiment poem . it is a very good poem .

  10. sathya priyan

    July 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    very interesting!

  11. abinaya

    July 30, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    very nice

    • Sarvesh singh

      November 30, 2015 at 3:26 pm

      I loved this poem

  12. ciezil nadda

    September 21, 2015 at 5:52 pm


  13. Atri Mazumdar

    September 23, 2015 at 4:03 am

    I thoroughly liked the verses in the poem…..It is touching

  14. Vivek kumar singh

    October 21, 2015 at 9:24 am

    I love this poem

  15. Ankan

    November 23, 2015 at 3:01 am

    i liked it..

  16. shwetank singh

    November 27, 2015 at 3:29 pm


  17. Saish

    November 30, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    This poem is nice and i am happy as this is a part of learning for students for their boards….

  18. Anupam

    December 21, 2015 at 5:50 pm

    I am in x standard i like this poem a lot it is very sensitive and it gives a message the message is true and very simple that wars are bad

  19. wethe

    January 5, 2016 at 9:56 am


  20. Smriti

    February 20, 2016 at 5:00 pm

    It’s a great poem with a sense of deep meaning that wars cause devastation and loss of many young lives.

  21. Aransha

    February 27, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Hey nice and heart touching poem… i m in ninth standard as my have to prepare well for my boards i m sure that this one will surely do good to me…

  22. Anish kuvel

    February 29, 2016 at 4:36 pm

    This poem is there for my board exams

  23. Michael Mack

    March 20, 2016 at 1:03 pm

    Thank you so much for appreciating my poem with the analysis and kind comments.

  24. KRISH

    April 3, 2016 at 4:11 pm

    very intrusting and immositional as well as boring poem

  25. ADITYA

    April 3, 2016 at 4:18 pm

    good but can be better


    April 19, 2016 at 6:56 am

    Superb poem!!!

    • Michael Mack

      May 1, 2016 at 1:31 am

      Thank you very much gor enjoying it..

      • Akshat

        May 23, 2016 at 5:28 am

        I just wanted to know the “character sketch” of the soldier….plz anyone answer it…

        • Michael Mack

          May 24, 2016 at 3:25 pm

          I’m not sure i understand what you are asking for.

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