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A Look Into The Poetry Of The Great War

1611 words - 7 pages

The famous works written in 1917 by poets Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon cast aside the conventional inspiration for content, patriotism, and delve into the horrific journey that is war. Two poems in particular, Sassoon’s “Suicide in the Trenches” and Owen’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est”, speak boldly against life in the trenches in efforts of evading the lies and illusions of a clean and righteous war. In doing so, readers are presented with tales that conjure up powerful and far-from-picturesque images that harbor the ability to shake the very core of a human through impactful language as crafted by these poets. While both poems allow the reader to come to the same conclusion that war is ...view middle of the document...

The significance of this image lies in the fact that these soldiers are feeling negatively while on their way to being facilitated for days of rest. It showcases the idea that war is inescapable because even the notion of comfortable surroundings is irrelevant to the violent memories that constantly occupy the mind. On this note, the poem also provides insight into the nightmares of soldiers. Regarding a victim of a gas attack, the poem reads, “In all my dreams, before my helpless sight, He plunges at me, guttering, choking, drowning.” (Owen) This line is so emotionally impactful that it stands as a stanza on its own, and so vivid that the speaker has to use three negative verbs to attempt a depiction of the horror that he witnessed. His senses were not able to fathom one word that truly captured the essence of his shock. Sir John French, Commander-in-Chief of the British Army reports against the first German gas attack saying, “All the scientific resources of Germany have apparently been brought into play to produce a gas of so virulent and poisonous a nature that any human being brought into contact with it is first paralyzed and then meets with a lingering and agonizing death.” (firstworldwar) Considering that, the reader is limited in his/her imagination of such agony and therefore relies heavily on the speaker’s description of and ability to recreate such scarring events. This is where the importance of Owen’s strong language comes into play, as the speaker, while not having experienced the effects of poison gas on himself, has witnessed it on a very personal account that still haunts him in the present. “Suicide in the Trenches” however places more importance on the psychological, but not without causing the reader to make several inferences. The text reads, “With crumps and lice and lack of rum, He put a bullet through his brain.” (Sassoon) The simplicity of the language is a hauntingly evocative, but the reader is still left with a feeling of uncertainty. The reasons given for the suicidal victim’s death undermine his demise. Key details regarding the physical inflictions of pain are missing. While psychological pain is an important component of the soldier’s life, it is an intangible idea. Physical pain, although subject to a person’s tolerance levels, is a concept that can be considered a sixth sense within humans (Mr. O’Hagan). For this reason, Sassoon’s method of presenting the life of a soldier through easy language that avoids exploring the guts and gore of situations becomes difficult for the reader in terms of coherence and relevance. Therefore Owen’s poem is more powerful in terms of the dark diction because readers enter a more fully developed world of war as opposed to Sassoon’s exploration of the psychological issues as he places less emphasis on the physical components of war.
The last stanza in each poem is dedicated to speaking out against the people who conduct falsifications of war and its glory, but Owen and Sassoon...

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