POETRY With the poems of Siegfried Sassoon we are moving from the conventional way of writing in the approach of the issue of war, in what sense??? First of all his approach is an anti- war approach , he is not encouraging young people to join the war , he speaking of war as being a cause of death. Because he is less conventional; he is less traditional , he is writing poems labeled until now as anti war poems , we find the division of his sentences, rhyme in words, the division of the poem into 2 stanzas, conversational style, we can say that he is turning to heritage that is used by the modernists .
If we are to examine this poem with other poems from the modern literature , we will find that it does complete some of the demands of modern poetry , he is different from Rupert Brooke, he was conventional dismissing the modern approach he was delaying the modern trends, but as for Sassoon because he is writing in a subject matter different complete from him he was able to turn to the new trend. Who is Siegfried Sassoon???
He is a young man from a wealthy family he is a soldier he was interesting in hunting, he had been face to face with war different from Brooke he had more than one injury, he was closer to the real experience , was an English poet, and an author. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches, because he lived the moment of war he was in the battle field unlike Brooke .
If you remember the last poem The Soldier, what was the evil he was talking about ??? he was talking about war as a means to destroy evil from their lives but here season talks about war as being evil itself, he has the right to be anti war poet because he is one of the victims of war as for brook he speaks of war as a means to get rid of evil and to posses more land, to enjoy a life of settlement and enjoy the sky of England, he was speaking in a romantic way about war.
As for Sassoon he is describing war as being evil he is exposing war to the reader as being the ugly face, he lost lots of friends in war , because of these anti war poets were criticizing the religious system, the practices of the church , and we find this in the poem They, he was ready to he was ready to break any relation with things that he believes were demolishing or collapsing the deterioration of his own society. “THEY” The Bishop tells us: “When the boys come back They will not be the same; for they’ll have fought
In a just cause: they lead the last attack On Anti-Christ; their comrade’s blood has bought New right to breed an honourable race. They have challenged Death and dared him face to face. ” “We’re none of us the same! ” the boys reply. “For George lost both his legs; and Bill’s stone blind; Poor Jim’s shot through the lungs and like to die; And Bert’s gone syphilitic: you’ll not find A chap who’s served that hasn’t found _some_ change. ” And the Bishop said; “The ways of God are strange! ” Who are “THEY”??? ay be the soldiers and may be the bishop , why not the bishop, both soldiers and bishop can be called they but what does they indicates??? It ideates the negligence of the identity, this is the main point that draws our attention when we read the title they . In the 1st stanza we are invited to believe that they are the bishop, and when we turn to the 2nd stanza there are people with certain names and identities, emotions attached to them , actions being practiced by or against them, so they are not they anymore , though the word they is the 1st word used by the bishop in the 1st stanza .
The bishop is speaking about the whole soldiers of feeling the same and suffering the same and what is worse that he is referring to them with detachment , he is creating a distance between him and this young group of soldiers . This is the daily preaching of the bishop, in what sense they will be change according to the bishop, what they are doing is a devotion to god they are serving god as well as they are serving the country , because of this mission when they come back they will not return the same , they will put an end to the anti-Christ world.
The soldiers are shedding their blood to allow a new race to grow and come out from his land , their blood is the price of this race. Look at the idea he is presenting in sending these young soldiers to war , trying to convince the listeners and the soldiers day by day ,that when you join the war you will become more mature , more experienced and you will gain honor ,for yourself and family, you are purifying your land by your own blood .
Let’s see how many times the word they has been repeated ?? 4 times in 6 lines , forgetting about the soldiers identities and individuality , so the group is not meant as individual, the decision maker can make use of them to defeat the other party without having to give them identities and different personalities . They will not be the same .. he is not concentrating on something specific. Who is the anti-Christ???
Speaking of the enemy, the church is criticizing the other countries believes, he is generalizing , in fact this stanza is written in an ironical way, to satirize and attack the bishop who stands for all the bishops of the other churches in England at that time who is making a kind of a propaganda for the sake of the decision maker = the political system , so they are practicing this attribute of advertising , and emphasizing the idea of war on the society , he is speaking in the place of the bishop to talk about the churches and bishops ironically as you notice in the 1st stanza the poet refers to one bishop, and the bishop talks about the soldiers by they .
As for the second stanza , the soldiers are shot, injured and blind , this is the worst ending to because they are shot but because a young man is injured or crippled for life, emotionally they are joining together for the same cause, deep emotion touch which is completely absent from the bishops speech, “…that hasn’t found some change. ”: the irony of this statement illustrates Sassoon’s satirical point, that a massive change has indeed come to the men, but quite different to that which the Bishop predicts. the soldier was listing every name and the injury that faced that soldiers , yes they are changed but not emotionally by the bishops preaching but by the terrifying war that changed them physically and let then face the hardships of life very early, we have the attitude of war enhanced here .
STRUCTURE: We have broken rhymes and if you compare between the 2 stanzas you will that the 2nd stanza has les punctuation and pauses , the attitude towards the experience is different when being closer to the experience , ‘They’ is comprised of two stanzas of equal length: six lines of iambic pentameter each, with rhyme scheme ABABCC. The second stanza subverts the message of the first. ‘They’ has a clever rhythmical structure, intended to create a particular tone to the poem. Sassoon subtly subverts the Bishop’s strident sermon in the first stanza by his use of colons and semi-colons as caesuras or pauses in the middle of each line.
These give the first stanza a deliberately halting rhythm that, along with the rhetorical confidence of the Bishop’s sermon, gives his speech a subtle staginess that suggests an insincere performance. By contrast, the strong rhythm given to the answers of the men in the second stanza reinforces the ugly truth that they tell. The soldiers’ reply tends to pause more ‘naturally’ at the end of lines, ‘end-stopping’ each statement, giving a sense of complete meaning. THE GENERAL “Good-morning; good-morning! ” the General said When we met him last week on our way to the Line, Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead, And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine. “He’s a cheery old card,” grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack. * * * * * But he did for them both by his plan of attack. “Good-morning; good-morning! ” the General said The general is the head planner and he is responsible for what happens to these children . This poem is one of Siegfried Sassoon’s anti-war poems. After the death of one of his close friends he started questioning the validity of the war. He praised the war heroes, but damned those in charge. In WWI, many men died, because of the incompetence of those in charge and Sassoon highlights that here, in this poem. The General appears to be very chipper, which is the polar opposite of how the soldiers felt.
It is not a happy morning for the soldiers ,The General most likely did not spend any time at the front line and did not see all the death and misery that happened there; so he is not as sad and depressed as his men. When we met him last week on our way to the Line, Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead, The soldiers are dying on the front line and the General does not seem to care; he doesn’t even seem to notice that some men are missing. He seems to have a blase attitude about the soldiers; he does not care if they die as long as he does not have to see them die. He tries to remain unattached to his soldiers because he knows that statistically many will die and it is easier to not get invested. And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine. It is the orders given by the General and his staff that are getting these men killed.
The General, not ever going to the front line, has no real idea what is going on there and he is giving orders that are not in the soldier’s best interest, then says that they are not competent, he has never been out there to see for his own eyes what these soldiers are suffering. The General reveals Sassoon’s desire to depict the contrast between the soldiers who march to death and the Generals who send them there. This is revealed in the particularly potent final line; standing apart from the rigidity of the main poem, the poem reads, “…but he did for them both by his plan of attack. ” Like his other wartime poetry, Sassoon uses a sardonic sense of irony to criticize the madness of war.
Is the general pleased, enjoying the power to control men’s lives? Or is he merely a fool? The main reason for the huge number of death is his reckless planes, the general craves winning no matter what the consequences are . Let’s compare this one stanza poem with the last 2 stanza poem , what is the difference??? Lets mingle and put these poems together , the general and the bishop are acting the same way , they are sending young soldiers to their death , the bishop or churches have prepared the society for patriotism, and the general comes next to that because they are the planners , what is the relation between the general and the bishop???
Both of them are observers , knowing things from a distance, the poet is criticizing the system that brought these people and made them the planners, who are more interested for their own benefit , so they are abusing and miss using these children, pushing them to war , in the other hand the general is using the bishop to enhance the national feelings, when they make their decision they order the bishop to preach the soldiers and evoke patriotism in them. Sassoon is not criticizing war only , but he is also criticizing the religious and the political system, that brings greedy people like the general and bishop. Emotionally the general and the bishop are not involved in the war and nor the individual sufferings of the soldiers , even the good morning of the soldier is a cold one he could feel or see the reaction on the faces of the soldiers who were terrified because of the war .