Suicide in the trenches Title and Author: “Suicide in the Trenches” is a poem written by Siegfried Sassoon. Sassoon wrote this poem during his First World War military service and published in his 1918 collection: “Counter-Attack and Other Poems” Form and style This poem is a lyric which contains of three stanzas each containing four lines. This is written in rhyming couplets, the style of the poem seems very simple and song-like War is destructive of youth and innocence. There is a change in mood where the first stanza talks about the despair when he is in the trenches.
In the third stanza we move to the poet’s anger about the way that people at home feel Each stanza has four lines with a pattern of a-a-b-b-c-c-d-d-e-e-f-f. Main Themes, ideas and perspectives about war: This poem talks about the survival of a young soldier who survived, addressing to the people left at home of all the hardships that they go through in the trenches. These demonstrate: * Destructive effects of the war. * Anger at the glorification of war * Disillusionment * The corruption of innocence * Wastefulness of the war: futility Evil tramping over good Structural features and effects * The poem is separated into three stanzas which have four lines each. The verses rhyme with the next in pairs of two (a-a-b-b, c-c-d-d, e-e-f-f) and all the verses have eight syllables. * Each verse has a different tone * Description of the ‘soldier boy’ which makes us compassionate and give more concern * The poet criticizes the attitudes of people towards war when they know nothing about the reality of war. The poet wants the reader to feel guilty. Language, Tone and Vocabulary In this poem the poet uses adjectives creating an interesting feeling and he creates the horror of the battlefields. * Sassoon conveys his feelings and concerns towards the ‘soldier boy’ who has lost his innocence because of the war and he also shows his anger for the thoughtless ‘smug face’ crowds who just cheer when young innocent boys march by and they just ignore the basic truth of the trench warfare. * Emphatic * The poem is told from a third person’s point of view where the poet is limited with the amount of information he gives about the ‘soldier boy’. Alliteration is used in the second line “Simple soldier boy” to depict how naive and ordinary this soldier boy was. * Alliteration “slept soundly” shows how he had nothing to fear and lived life to the full with the hope of awaking tomorrow. * Onomatopoeia “And whistled early with the lark” to portray the boy’s view of life embraced everything that came his way. * Alliteration “With crumps and lice and lack of rum” to give the reader an insight into trench life. * ‘cowed and glum’ which is a contrast to his previous “grin” Imagery (sensory, Figurative) At this point Sassoon’s poem “Suicide in the Trenches” evokes the image of a young man, a child, in despair. * The words “soldier boy” stated at the end of the first line, criticise on the early age of the soldiers in the First Wold War. * . The “empty joy” in verse 2, tries to explain the lack of aims in life that these extremely young soldiers had and, which is more important, the sadness, though a contrast, and verses 3 and 4 show his loneliness and his inability to rest at night as stated in verse 3 “slept soundly”, which is another contrast. The boy is compared to a lark which symbolises joy, song and flying high. The battlefield is compared to hell which is where these young men are being sent to fight. “With crumps and lice and lack of rum’ is giving the sensation of how unpleasant it is in the trenches. * The last stanza from lines nine to twelve, is a satirical view of Sassoon’s greatest criticism and determination to revenge of those “smug-faced crowds”, in verse 9, who “cheer when soldiers march by”, in verse 10.
He hated those who considered to be making a profit out of the war and those who were happy and proud their children going to serve their country: This creates a patriotic feeling. Moods/ Feelings * Bitter * Conscious * Anger * Rage * Antagonism * Resentment * The dominant mood of this poem is anger but there is also a feeling of sadness and sorrow about the young man’s death. Personal Evaluation In my opinion war is evil and this poem gives us a good view on the reality of war and its consequences.
This poem mainly criticises on the horrors of the war, the health conditions of the soldiers, the loneliness they had to face, patriotism of soldiers and the lack of resources that soldiers faced in the trenches. it made me think how inhumane the world that we are a part of is, that such horrible and indecent acts could be committed by humans. Having a young boy take such drastic measures is beyond my understanding for the time, the year which this poem was written but of course it must be understood because this was caused by the horrors of war.