Poetry of the great war

Essay by DrSevenUniversity, Bachelor's November 2014

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Poetry of the Great War

The harsh realities of war are something you have to experience firsthand in order to understand their depth and scope. One of the realities of war is that a lot of men die, typically in a horrible fashion out in the open, and it is more than many men can bear to witness. It can cause nervous breakdowns known as shell shock. The Great War, referred to in the title, is a direct reference to World War 1 which took place from 1914-1919. One of the harsh realities of this war was known as trench warfare. Men on the western front fought their part of the war with machine guns from trenches dug into the mud. According to the book The West in the World, "The trenches became filled with mud, rats, human bodies, lice, waste, poison gas, and the stench of death … But they also served as homes and protection for troops under fire."(Sherman

698) From the depths of these and other cruel displays of awesome superiority comes the beauty of the pen that came to be known as poetry of the Great War.

Siegfried Sassoon is considered to be a very important figure when studying poets of World War 1. According to the website Poem Hunter, Sassoon has been called the "accidental hero" by John Hildebidle (professor of literature at MIT). Sassoon was born into an upper class Jewish family in the year 1889. He spent his youth fox-hunting, playing cricket, golfing, and writing romantic poetry. Having lived a life of privilege, Sassoon's reaction to the harshness of war was very bitter and violent. This reaction can be seen in just the title of his poem "The Rank And Stench Of Those Bodies Haunts Me Still". The theme of this...