Comparing “The Soldier” and “Counter Attack”
At the beginning of the century two ideas prevailed about what war was like; it was either heroic or mere butchery. These ideas are represented in the 2 poems “The Soldier” by Rupert Brookes and “Counter Attack” by Siegfried Sassoon. Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) was an accomplished poet in WW1. Unlike Sassoon, Brooke never fought at the front line, but joined the Mediterranean Navy where he died of a mosquito bite. Rupert Brooke expressed his feelings about war (war being a heroic act) through poems such as “The Soldier” where he talks about the solemnity of the soldier and represented war as the ultimate sacrifice and honourable act for your country. Siegfried Sassoon (1887-1967), however, was a commissioned officer and did fight at the front line. His brother was killed in the war, which had a profound effect on his poetry. This was one of the reasons, why he was determined to convey the ugly truth of war to an audience won over by propaganda. He shows this in the poem “Counter Attack”. Rupert Brooke did not experience the life of a soldier in the trenches and therefore was not as bitter or hateful towards the war, unlike, Sassoon who did experience the conditions of trenches and this affected his attitude towards the Great War. “Counter Attack” is about Siegfried Sassoon and other soldiers in the trenches, ready to launch an attack – “with bombers posted, Lewis guns well placed”. In the second paragraph, he describes the condition of the “rotten” trenches in great detail (“bulged clotted heads slept in the plastering slime”).On the other hand, “The Soldier” talks about the greatness of England and sets a patriotic tone –“Forever England”. In the first paragraph, Rupert talks about and describes himself to the reader: “If I should die think only this of me”. In the second paragraph, he begins to describe and glorifies England, setting a very patriotic tone to the poem, “Her sights and sounds; dreams as happy as her...
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