Siegfried Sassoon Counter Attack Essay

Siegfried Sassoon's "Dreamers" is a sonnet, a lyric poem with fourteen lines and a specific rhyme scheme.

At such times, what occupies their minds is not thoughts of heroic deeds but dreams of what really matters in life: "firelit homes, clean beds, and wives" (line 8) and other ordinary, mundane activities.

Young men ordinarily dream of participating in extraordinary events and becoming part of history.

Petrarch's scheme in the first stanza of his sonnets is abba, abba.

In the second stanza, it is cde, cde (or cdc, cdc; or cde, dce).

Elam, Ninevah, Babylon were but beautiful vague names, and the total ruin of those worlds had as little significance for us as their very existence. And in the same disorder of mind, at the summons of the same anguish, all cultivated Europe underwent the rapid revival of her innumerable ways of thought: dogmas, philosophies, heterogeneous ideals; the three hundred ways of explaining the World, the thousand and one versions of Christianity, the two dozen kinds of positivism; the whole spectrum of intellectual light spread out its incompatible colors, illuminating with a strange and contradictory glow the death agony of the European soul. But he is an intellectual Hamlet, meditating on the life and death of truths; for ghosts, he has all the subjects of our controversies; for remorse, all the titles of our fame. "What about Me," he says, "what is to become of Me, the European intellect? Perhaps follow the trend and do like Polonius who is now director of a great newspaper; like Laertes, who is something in aviation; like Rosencrantz, who is doing God knows what under a Russian name? A certain confusion still reigns; but in a little while all will be made clear, and we shall witness at last the miracle of an animal society, the perfect and ultimate anthill." We'd gained our first objective hours before While dawn broke like a face with blinking eyes, Pallid, unshaved and thirsty, blind with smoke. We held their line, With bombers posted, Lewis guns well placed, And clink of shovels deepening the shallow trench.

But France, England, Russia...these too would be beautiful names. And we see now that the abyss of history is deep enough to hold us all. An extraordinary shudder ran through the marrow of Europe. While inventors were feverishly searching their imaginations and the annals of former wars for the means of doing away with barbed wire, of outwitting submarines or paralyzing the flight of airplanes, her soul was intoning at the same time all the incantations it ever knew, and giving serious consideration to the most bizarre prophecies; she sought refuge, guidance, consolation throughout the whole register of her memories, past acts, and ancestral attitudes. He is bowed under the weight of all the discoveries and varieties of knowledge, incapable of resuming the endless activity; he broods on the tedium of rehearsing the past and the folly of always trying to innovate. The place was rotten with dead; green clumsy legs High-booted, sprawled and grovelled along the saps And trunks, face downward, in the sucking mud, Wallowed like trodden sand-bags loosely filled; And naked sodden buttocks, mats of hair, Bulged, clotted heads slept in the plastering slime. A yawning soldier knelt against the bank, Staring across the morning blear with fog; He wondered when the Allemands would get busy; And then, of course, they started with five-nines Traversing, sure as fate, and never a dud.We are aware that a civilization has the same fragility as a life. She felt in every nucleus of her mind that she was no longer the same, that she was no longer herself, that she was about to lose consciousness, a consciousness acquired through centuries of bearable calamities, by thousands of men of the first rank, from innumerable geographical, ethnic, and historical coincidences.. Such are the known effects of anxiety, the disordered behavior of mind fleeing from reality to nightmare and from nightmare back to reality, terrified, like a rat caught in a trap. He staggers between two abysses -- for two dangers never cease threatening the world: order and disorder. His terribly lucid mind contemplates the passage from war to peace: darker, more dangerous than the passage from peace to war; all peoples are troubled by it. Mute in the clamour of shells he watched them burst Spouting dark earth and wire with gusts from hell, While posturing giants dissolved in drifts of smoke. Bombing on the right Down the old sap: machine- guns on the left; And stumbling figures looming out in front.'O Christ, they're coming at us!The circumstances that could send the works of Keats and Baudelaire to join the works of Menander are no longer inconceivable; they are in the newspapers. Hamlet hardly knows what to make of so many skulls. He crouched and flinched, dizzy with galloping fear, Sick for escape,— loathing the strangled horror And butchered, frantic gestures of the dead. ' Bullets spat, And he remembered his rifle...rapid fire...The English poet Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) wrote a group of dramatic, intense lyrics in reaction to the horrors of World War I.His six volumes of partly fictionalized memoirs are a detailed record of the sensibilities of his age.He was twice wounded and was awarded a medal for rescuing a wounded comrade.Sassoon wrote many poems about the horror of war and the folly of regarding it as a glorious enterprise for young men.In the essay below, he makes allusion to the scene in which Hamlet ponders mortality while studying the skull that is all that remains of a man he had known in life. Through the obscure depths of history we could make out the phantoms of great ships laden with riches and intellect; we could not count them. Peace is a time of creative rivalry and the battle of production; but I am not tired of producing?- smv We had long heard tell of whole worlds that had vanished, of empires sunk without a trace, gone down with all their men and all their machines into the unexplorable depths of the centuries, with their gods and their laws, their academies and their sciences pure and applied, their grammars and their dictionaries, their Classics, their Romantics, and their Symbolists, their critics and the critics of their critics. But the disasters that had sent them down were, after all, none of our affair. Have I not exhausted my desire for radical experiment, indulged too much in cunning compounds? Should I not perhaps lay aside my hard duties and transcendent ambitions? By giving the names of progress to its own tendency to a fatal precision, the world is seeking to add to the benefits of life the advantages of death.But, facing the reality of war, they dream of participating in ordinary events of little consequence historically.All of the end rhymes in the poem except one are masculine.


Comments Siegfried Sassoon Counter Attack Essay

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