“Glory of women” by Siegfried Sassoon
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The poem “Glory of women” can be considered to be the typical style of poetry written by the English war time poet, Siegfried Sassoon. Through the use of poetic techniques, Sassoon’s words had painted a picture conveying his anti-war messages, in attempt to break the popular romanticized beliefs the majority population held towards war, conveying the ignorance of the public, however at the same time praising the love and dedication of the women on the home front.
Sassoon’s poem “Glory of women” can be categorized as a war time lyric poem. Like all lyric poems, Sassoon had expressed a single speaker’s thoughts of fear and general state of mind through his work. The poem began with a scenario of an ideal image of war and how it was made to be perceived subsequent to the government’s propaganda. The first two lines had depicted the successfulness of the false ideas of war that has been placed in the minds of women. The ignorance of women back on the homefront was shown through the use of words in the first few lines of the poem. One of such examples is the use of “you”, by establishing a second person throughout the poem, “you”, directed at women creates an emotional distance between the audience and women. The use of second person establishes the idea that during war, women were ignorant outsiders, who relied solely on the media.
Sassoon had successfully invited the essence of an ideal image of the war into the opening of the poem, through the his use of juxtaposition in the poem “glory of women”, transforming it to not only a simple work relating to women, but also an anti war tool for the war time population. One clear example of this was evident through the lines one and two, when “love” was juxtaposed with “wounded” in the subsequent line. By stating that the reason for “love” was due to the fact that they were “wounded in a mentionable place”, had conveyed the idea of the romanticized beliefs of heroism during the war promoted by the government. Once again the association of “love” , a deep and pure inner emotion, with such word as “wounded”, an idea of physical injury had highlighted the cruelty of the government, conveying the only way they could be loved was through their self sacrifice. Other examples of juxtaposition includes “chivalry” and “disgrace” as well as delight” and “dirt and danger”. All examples evoke similar emotions within readers, once again emphasizing the previous point relating to the ignorance of women.
Despite the women’s’ ignorance towards the truth on the frontline, women had strongly supported and acted as vital backbone for the men on war fronts. Through the use of emotive words such as “love”, “believe” “mourn” and the metaphor “crowned our distant ardors while we fight” also illustrating ignorance, but more importantly had demonstrated the emotional rollercoaster that was experienced by war time women, unveiling their love and care towards their loved one on the war front. Their acts of support can be linked to the title of the poem, “the glory of women”, however their ignorance had added a melancholy tone to the first part of them poem.
The tone of the poem was soon transformed into violence and hatred, mainly through the use of imagery.
The sudden transition from the ideal war to “hell’s last horror” had confronted the audience with the ruthless nature of war, automatically altering the tone of the poem from melancholy to one that’s filled with violence and hatred. The alliteration of “hell’s last horror” had summarized the extent of the violence of the war, it was then put further into perspective through the imagery of “trampling the terrible corpses”. The use of imagery creating emotions of horror was also evident in the final line “his face is trodden deeper in the mud”. This was once again contrasted with the line “o German mother dreaming by the fire”, confronting the audience with the reality of war, it also compares to the romanticized idea of war held by German women, once more illustrating their ignorance.
By referring not only to British women, but also German women, Sassoon had torn down the hatred barrier between the two countries created by war and treated both populations as a whole. This suggests the idea that Sassoon considers all human to be of equal status, which corresponds with his hatred for war. He had perceived both British and German women to be glorious, however victims of the governments. Sassoon’s speaks from a soldier’s point of view and holds strong intentions to break the romanticized idea of war. His work was created as result of his opinions and motivations he held towards war, he believed the idea of revealing the “unspeakable truth” and conveyed his willingness to create change within his circumstances, his work “Glory of women” can therefore be considered as a successful peace of art