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Suicide In The Trenches Analysis

Author: Poetry of Siegfried Sassoon Type: Poetry Views: 1313

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I knew a simple soldier boyWho grinned at life in empty joy,Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,And whistled early with the lark.In winter trenches, cowed and glum,With crumps and lice and lack of rum,He put a bullet through his brain.No one spoke of him again.You smug-faced crowds with kindling eyeWho cheer when soldier lads march by,Sneak home and pray you'll never knowThe hell where youth and laughter go.


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||| Analysis | Critique | Overview Below |||

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| Posted on 2017-07-10 | by a guest

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This is so good, it like turns me on when I read it. I love Sassoon and his writing and I would love to no him ;)

| Posted on 2013-02-24 | by a guest

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Siegfried Sassoon was born in Kent, England, in 1886. He studied both Law and History at Cambridge before leaving without taking a degree. After leaving Cambridge, Sassoon lived the life of a sportsman, hunter, rider, player of cricket until the outbreak of the war. Although he wrote poetry before The War, he was no more than a Georgian Poet. He finally enlisted two days before the British declaration of war, and joined as a trooper but after a riding accident when he got a badly broken-arm, Sassoon was commissioned in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. On November 1915, he suffered his first personal loss of the war. His younger brother was mortally wounded and buried at the sea. Later, his friend Tommy was hit in the throat by a riffle bullet and died of the wound. After these deaths, Sassoon became determined to “get his revenge” on the Germans. Years later he was sent home from France after an attack of trench fever. In his convalescence he also spent some time in London with Robert Ross who encouraged him to write satirical war poems. Again was he wounded I the shoulder and wrote a good deal of poetry and the material he wrote at that time appeared inCounter-Attack and other poems, where I think this poem belongs to. Sassoon eventually realised that his protest had achieved nothing, except to keep him away from his men. In February 1948 he was posted toPalestine where he found himself in the front line. Much of Sassoon’s poetry written during the War was satirical in nature. Several poems are aimed at those on the Home Front. He used his poems to hit out at Home whom he considered to be making a profit out of the War, or those whom he felt were helping to prolong the War. (Siegfried Sassoon, Biography).
At this point Sassoon’s poem “Suicide in the Trenches” evokes the image of a young man, a child, in despair. According to the title of the poem, we realize that it refers war. The title suggests the suicide of somebody in a trench. The words “soldier boy” stated at the end of the 1st verse, criticise the early age of the soldiers in the First Wold War. The poem is separated into three stanzas that have four verses 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. Some of the youngsters that enlisted in the army had no aspirations for the future and thought a good option to go to war and come back, with a good range in the army. 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 rhythm words “dark” and “lark” give us an obscure view of the situation and both could mean death because of the dark atmosphere they create for the reader.
The soldier’s mood is well defined in verse 5 “cowed and glum” and those words show us that this child, unable to find solace in the trenches, is unhappy and desperate. Bad conditions soldiers suffered in the war are stated in the 6th verse; “Crumps and lice” were very common among soldiers and here the poet is using this word to criticise the dreadful hygienic conditions.
Another important aspect Sassoon remembers in verse 6 is the “lack of rum”. Rum was the soldier’s relief and best friend, because it made them forget the bad moments and the images of war. But, as everything in war, rum started to be scarce, and only a few soldiers could drink it. This increased the suicides of soldiers as told in the 7th and 8th verses.
The last stanza from verses 9 to 12, 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: A patriotic feeling.
The 3rd quatrain also remarks the crowd’s hypocrisy and apparent patriotism. For Sassoon war is evil and that’s why he uses contrasting tones, pathos and judging eye. These literary resources help him to emit his hate towards war and its consequences. To end up with this analysis I’d like to point out that the author tries to create sorrow towards the young soldier (in the reader) and this is the main reason why the author uses connotations of dark colours, contrasts and an ironic tone when he send them home to pray recriminating them not to know the hell where the soldier’s laughter and youth goes being “Hell” a metaphor of war.
Finally, in my opinion, the poem is a good view on the war and its worst consequence: suicide, but I think that Sassoon’s real intention when writing this poem was to criticise health conditions, loneliness, patriotism and the lack of resources the soldiers faced in the trenches x

| Posted on 2012-06-04 | by a guest

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Sassoon expresses his hatred for war by writing the poem

| Posted on 2011-11-01 | by a guest

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this is a really good poem and i love the way he uses the children\'s poems rhyme and stanza scheme to emphasise the naive young man\'s death.
thanks for all the comments above - they were really helpful when writing an essay.

| Posted on 2011-03-20 | by a guest

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I agree with the annonymnous guest, the coments about Seigfred\'s bum were very enlightning and reveilved many truths about my soul in his bum.. Love always anonymous girl.

| Posted on 2011-03-06 | by a guest

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In the essay I will look at the poem ‘suicide in the trenches’ it is about a young boy who goes to war, where he realises how horrific life can be in the trenches. He feels that he can’t live anymore and he is scared about the war. He finds the condition very difficult, and then he decides to commit suicide. Siegfried Sassoon expresses his attitude thought out the poem and we are led to believe that he has a negative impression of war.
In stanza one of the poem we knew that the young boy is simple and always happy “I knew a simple young solider boy who grinned at life in empty joy” this means he was young and had no worries because he enjoyed life no cares what people think, he went way and done what he wanted. He made life seen easy and happy even when times were bad.
In the second stanza it tells you about the conditions of the trenches and how cowed and glum it was in the winter. It also talks about the crumps and lice lack of rum because the rum would keep them warm in the cold weather. So when the young boy realises that the life in the trenches where not what he thought they will be the commits suicide and put a bullet thought his brain and no one spoke of him again because it was happening all the time.
In stanza three the poet lets all of his angry out and says “you smug – faced crowds with kindling eyes, who cheer when soldier lads march by” means he is angry because they so knew what the soldiers are in for and he uses lads because they aren’t men yet. He also uses “sneak home and pray you’ll never know” he said this because he tries to make them look sneaky. The tone seems to be in a disgrace tone that he is ashamed of the crowd cheering to the young soldiers that are going to war and going to die. 1527 it seems that the poet is against war and has a bad impression of it.

| Posted on 2011-02-03 | by a guest

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What is the meaning of war? What is war like? How do soldiers feel in a war? Glorious? Depressed? This poem accurately shows the harsh but sadly true reality of war - death, suicide and depression. Indeed, as quoted by Sir Williams Henry - “Nobody in his right mind would enjoy war”.
The point of view is third person. This is effective in showing one case of suicide, that like how it is third person observation, represent the depression and desire to quickly die in everyone else. Life is really worse than death - and this is shown through the eye-catching title “Suicide in the Trenches”. The word “trenches” further emphasized that not only is this depression possessed by one young soldier boy, but also by many others in war.
The setting is in depressing, smelly, and stuffy trenches as the title has blatantly stated out. The story is about a young soldier boy’s transformation from a happy and innocent person into a depressed soldier who desires to kill himself, because life is really worse than death. The poet deliberately uses the small boy as a subject of example to gain the reader’s sympathy.
The structure of the poem is three stanzas with four lines in each. The rhyme scheme is A-A-B-B in each stanza. This seems to be a rigid structure, but it really does bring out how one’s initial carefree innocence and freedom is being lost once he enters the cruel and depressing battlefield, or in this case, trenches.
The tone in the poem is obviously a bitter and sarcastic one as we can see from the last stanza - “You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye...”. Sassoon strongly feels the general public is unable to empathize with soldiers because they is no way to understand what war is like unlike one is in it himself. Through this bitter and sad poem, the poet tries to bring out the theme of the poem - nobody can understand what war is like unless with personal experience.
The language the poet uses is clever in conveying the theme - a balance of symbolism, diction and alliteration is put to effective use in this poem. Something we cannot miss is the alliteration in the first stanza “slept soundly”. The repetition of the letter ‘s’ produces a harsh hissing sound, and this contributes to the bitter tone throughout the poem. Also, it puts emphasis on the phrase “slept soundly”. As we all know, people who can sleep soundly are those who have no worries and nagging troubles before going to bed. This highlights how the boy was so innocent, without any worries at all, at the start of his experience in war. This is also brought out in “whistling”, a action done only when one is happy and carefree.
The trenches symbolizes the rotting function of war in the case of the poem. Throughout the year till winter, the trenches had apparently transformed a carefree, innocent and happy boy into a depressed, boy who “put a bullet through his brain”. The alliteration of the letter ‘b’ here also further creates a harsh, brute and bitter sound that adds on to the bitter mood, especially at the climax of the story told - the suicide. The clever rhyme of “brain” with “again” at line 8 tries to strike a connection that although a young innocent boy was dragged into war and fought violently for his country and himself, in the end, when he is being pushed to his limit, still “nobody spoke of him again”. This shows how cruel and selfish war is. It forces you to help - at such a young age - but yet does not remember or appreciate what you have done and sacrificed. In this case, the boy sacrificed his childhood fun, laughter, innocence and carefree life in return for nothing at all - not even a memory of him. How is war cruel? This is the perfect example.
The diction used in the poem is especially strong. In the last stanza, the word “kindling” is being used to describe the “eye(s)” of the “smug-faced crowd”. One must notice that this line is only devoted to facial description, and the “kindling” seems to be also a superficial countenance feature only. However, Siegfried tries to show with a sarcastic tone that they think that war is a glorious thing, they feel proud of these children, and seem to understand and appreciate what they are doing. But in reality, they can never imagine what these children are going through, and in reality, they don’t care or feel appreciative of what the children did. Therefore, the word kindling reveals the hypocrisy behind people who support war.
In my personal opinion, the last stanza is the strongest and most impactful stanza. While the previous two stanza show the transformation of a single boy when he enters war, the last stanza directly attacks people who support war itself, at the thought of its glory and honor, but not give a thought about the “pawns” dying and suffering in war. “Sneak home and pray you’ll never know” shows that while the hypocrites support war, under the glorious facade, they are not willing or are too afraid to think of the consequences, sacrifice and price of this meaningless war - a big price that separates thousands of families and destroy tens of thousands of children. The poet is just trying to use an extreme and most serious example to illustrate his point.
Indeed, war is just so cruel - it takes away, but does not return - not even a single memory for dead people. It totally transform people from their happy and carefree state, into murderers constantly depressed and worried for their lives, yet guilty they killed their own kind. In war where humans are just pawns for a game of chess, nobody will understand how a soldier feels - constantly killing his own kind to defend himself, lacking in sleep, separated, maybe forever, from their families and friends - unless they undergo war itself. I would like to end off with this quote from the U.S. Military force - “Nobody would understand a soldier, except for the soldier himself”.

| Posted on 2010-07-07 | by a guest

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this poem explained the horrer that war produce's so y is there still war

| Posted on 2010-02-21 | by a guest

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In my opinion this poem is a good view on war and, how he starts off by a happy young man nothing wrong with him that ended up killing himself because of the horrible experience he had in the war. I liked how Sassoon describes the crowd that is proud of thinking they are winning the war but basically they are sending their sons to death letting them go to war. I also liked how the poem gets to the main point, I also enjoy how Ironic it was he used iambic tetrameter like in a nursery rhyme which is about war and suicide.

| Posted on 2010-02-03 | by a guest

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This poem was about a boy who joined war. He was happy and loved life but because of the war he committed suicide.
‘I knew a simple soldier boy who grinned at life in empty joy, Slept soundly through the lonesome dark, and whistled early with the lark.’ The first stanza suggests that the boy is happy and likes life. But in the second stanza its says ‘He put a bullet through his brain’ which suggests that he got fed up of war and seeing people die he thought he had no choice but to kill himself. No one talk about him after what happened which suggest that the soldiers who died in the war were forgotten.

| Posted on 2009-11-02 | by a guest

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This poem is simple yet beautiful, i think the rhyme scheme, being quite similar to a nursery ryhme puts emphasis on the fact that these soldiers were led to war at a very young age. In response to the comment that i quote "I think that Sassoon write similar things to Owen and they also belived in similar things e.g. the horros of war, how the men suffered and died and the cowards wo never thought about their country, only abput themselves" THIS IS NOT TRUE. infact it is the opposite, you clearly have not read his poetry, sassoon was deeply outraged by the war, and understood why so many men took their own lives, he does not see them as selfish!!!! sassoon was angry at how young men were brought to war to fight, they were not ready for the pain and suffering and he hated how their lives were not valued!!! when he says "he pit a bullet through his brain//and no one spoke of him again" what he is really trying to convey is that to the public at home those who took their lives were cowardly, but he doesnt think so, he experienced war and understood!!

| Posted on 2009-10-11 | by a guest

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this poem is crap and is boring. who care about those stupid soldiers!!! why would somebody cry over a poem!!!

| Posted on 2009-09-24 | by a guest

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Hey Tom,
I agree completely. I also had another idea- noticing the way the poem looks on the page, the line length seem to increase from the short first line to the end of the short second line- possibly representing the soldier's journey through life?

| Posted on 2009-08-24 | by a guest

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All the lines in this poem have 8 syllables except one which has 7 - "No one spoke of him again". I think that This line shows the message Siegfried Sassoon is trying to put across - That one the soldier is dead he is forgotten
and never spoke of again. This is said as there must have been millions of soldiers killed and possibly the majority lost to history. In my opinion This is the main point that Siegfried is trying to say through the poem. Please comment on wether you agree or not, I would love to know.

| Posted on 2009-06-28 | by a guest

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| Posted on 2009-05-18 | by a guest

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hi thiis is amy here i know that poem is short but it has a lot of meaning and character. Sassoon seems to be bitter and ignorant in the poem towards the cowards who only thought of themselves no one else. In all of Sassoon's poems he shows the cowardness of some men and he explains his message to the reader very clearly which makes the reader understand how Sassoon felt towards the situation. Also, all of Sassoon's poems are short not just 'Suicide in the trenches'. I like Sassoon's poetry because it feels as though he is speeching o the characters in the poem or towards the reader. Finally, I think that Sassoon write similar things to Owen and they also belived in similar things e.g. the horros of war, how the men suffered and died and the cowards wo never thought about their country, only abput themselves.

| Posted on 2009-05-18 | by a guest

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I think it's terrible that people are being so disrespectful to such a touching poem. The men that went to war deserve nothing but respect and honour, and whoever wrote the disgraceful comments below should be sent there themselves to experience what these fantasic men went through. (I bet they wouldn't last five minutes.)

| Posted on 2009-05-06 | by a guest

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In this poem 2 consecutive lines rhyme (aa bb cc dd etc)Personification is used with "through the lonesome dark." not a bad poem and who ever is writing that immature crap can grow up...

| Posted on 2009-04-28 | by a guest

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This poem shows the pain and suffer that those who went to war went through. Sasson the poet was in anger of how people let this go on.

| Posted on 2009-02-18 | by a guest

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| Posted on 2009-01-24 | by a guest

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this poem is very dramatic and shocking. it atcually mad me cry

| Posted on 2008-12-04 | by a guest

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it is a gd poem thet shows how poeple thought about the war but i don't know people are making such a big deal about it and say that he's horny or wat eva =I

| Posted on 2008-11-30 | by a guest

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I woul really appreciate it if some people did not write such disrespectful comments on this!
Siegfried Sassoon went to war and experienced this type of pain and suffering and people are not respecting that! Think next time!
thanks :)

| Posted on 2008-11-12 | by a guest

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um i bum seigfried sassooonnnn he'sso horny and he turns me on oh baby

| Posted on 2008-10-03 | by a guest

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This poem gives a great insight into the pain and suffering of the war. sassoon expressed his hatred through war with this poem

| Posted on 2008-08-13 | by a guest

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Very good I am going to produce semen over this
all my love Jamie Fussey

| Posted on 2008-06-23 | by a guest

.: Analysis :.

This poem brings a different element to the problems and suffering of war (suicide) the immense suffering and stress of war drove soldiers, particularly the young to extremes, not able to take the pressures and horrors of war. Its a very deep and sad poem, bringing to light the mental sufferings of young soldiers.

| Posted on 2007-10-10 | by a guest

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