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.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 first stanza presents a theme or topic, and the second stanza develops the theme or topic.
Sassoon observes Petrarch's stanza format but ignores his rhyme scheme.
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).
Society frequently depicts war as an exciting adventure offering opportunities to prove one's mettle and win glory.
But, says Sassoon in presenting his theme, war is a brutal ordeal for soldiers in muddy, rat-ridden trenches facing bullets and artillery bombardment--and the sight of bloody uniforms, torn limbs, and twitching bodies.
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.
At dawn the ridge emerges massed and dun In the wild purple of the glow’ring sun, Smoldering through spouts of drifting smoke that shroud The menacing scarred slope; and, one by one, Tanks creep and topple forward to the wire. Then, clumsily bowed With bombs and guns and shovels and battle-gear, Men jostle and climb to meet the bristling fire.
Lines of gray, muttering faces, masked with fear, They leave their trenches, going over the top, While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists, And hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists, Flounders in mud.