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Commentary On "Suicide In The Trenches" By Siegfried Sassoon.

1274 words - 5 pages

Siegfried Sassoon, the poet of "Suicide in the Trenches" fought in the 1st World War, and won the Military Cross for 'gallantry in action'. However in July 1917 he was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital near Edinburgh where he met Wilfred Owen, another famous war poet. He had become destroyed by the trauma of the 1st World War, and disheartened by the generals leading it. His anti-war stance was confirmed on July 30, when his statement demanding an end to the war was read out in the House of Commons and then reported upon in The Times the next day. Unlike Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon survived the war and retired from the army shortly after the war. His book of War Poems were published in 1919 and it is evident that even shortly into the war he was deeply opposed to its existence, but by the end his work was nothing short of horrifying and deeply bitter such as "To The Warmongers".In "Siegfried Sassoon" (a biography by John Stuart Roberts), it is highlighted that he grew to be infuriated and incensed by the British public's lack of knowledge of conditions in the trench. He spent most of the war years fighting in the trenches and as we now know, the trenches were nothing short of horrific, down to diseases, the awful conditions they were forced to live in and the lack of nourishment. Also, despite being young himself he was distressed when a young friend of his, to be young to have been sent to war, was shot for deserting and then disowned. It is believed that this poem was about him, although Sassoon never made any direct reference to him himself.In the first stanza we see very simple, unassuming language used as he describes the boy (who we assume to be young) as he was, a happy and gentle boy who would whistle to the tune of the birds and would grin at life. By describing such a nice and simple lad, we are able to immediately connect with the boy as it is such a general description that it links us immediately to a boy we know ourselves. By doing this, it makes the next two stanzas more effective because we automatically think of the boy as someone we know. Then when the boy commits suicide it sickens us more because we imagine the boy we know committing suicide, rather than a faceless person. In the second stanza we see that this boy is now at war, and living in the trenches. They are described negatively, but again very simply so we can form a general, but vivid image in our minds. This was published in 1918, so the public were finally being alerted to what the trenches, and war itself was really like. This made it easier for him to describe the trenches as he did not have to go into as much detail as he did in some of his earlier work. He goes on to brutally and almost crudely say that "He put a bullet through his brain" which almost seems out of place when we read it here, as we naturally assume that the focus of this poem (the suicide) will take place at the end of the poem. The boy has lost his innocence fighting in the war and wants to...

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