Base Details by Siegfried Sassoon (Notes)

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Base Details
Poet: Siegfried Sassoon
Topic: War
Theme: The main theme of this poem is the deep anger left by the poet at the behavior of the majors and generals during World War I.

Subject Matter: Siegfried Sassoon was a soldier who fought in World War I. he witnessed the horrendous slaughter of thousands of young solider on the battlefield. much of this killing was totally senseless and was a result of poor planning and incorrect strategies employed by the majors. This angered the poet so much that he was driven to write this angry poem. He imagines himself being a major and sarcastically suggests that he would be: "Fierce, bald and short of breath," And he would send young soldiers, or "glum heroes," to their deaths, while remaining far from the battlefield himself. "Guzzling and gulping in the best hotels." He imagines himself reading a book containing the names of the dead soldiers and pretending to express some sympathy. "Poor young chap," When the war is over the major would die, not heroically on the battlefield, but home in bed.

Language and style: This poem is a satire, in which Sassoon bitterly attacks the majors and those in charge of military matters who send thousands of young soldiers to their deaths in the name of patriotism. Sassoon uses many features of style in constructing this poem. There is a regular rhyming scheme used with line 1 rhyming with line 3, line 2 with line 4, etc. Each line is made of ten syllables each and the last two lines rhyme. (This is a rhyming couplet.) It is a very descriptive poem with Sassoon making use of effecting adjectives. For example, the Majors are described as "scarlet," while their faces are said to be "Puffy and petulant." Some of the verbs he chooses are also interesting. He writes about the majors " Guzzling and gulping." Here onomatopoeia is used to add to the effectiveness of the image. Onomatopoeia is also found on the last line of the poem when we are told that the Majors "toddle" home....
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