Daniella Colón’s Reading Questions for February 10th, 2022

1) Many of Sassoon’s poems revolve around the experience of death in ways that are figurative and literal. From the sullen and straightforward nature of How to Die, to the intensifying nature of Counter-Attack, Sassoon’s attempts to give multiple portrayals of death through several perspectives in these collective poems. Compared to the likes of All Quiet on the Western Front and Not So Quiet, how are these themes portrayed differently through the use of poetry compared to the format of a novel? Is there a similar impact to be found?
2) The generals of Sassoon’s works are written to be far more flawed compared to the works of Smith and Remarque; works such as Base-Details and The General give distinct characterization, whether it be through a first-person perspective, or by the addition of dialogue to these pieces to give further contextualization to these individuals. Do these tactics enhance the effectiveness of Sassoon’s portrayal? How do they affect the tone of Sassoon’s works, along with his portrayal of war?
3) The Poet As Hero is written to be far more reflective and self-aware compared to his other works. Although it can be inferred as a message directed towards the reader, Sassoon’s words gain far more weight with the implication of his first-hand experiences of fighting for Britain in World War 1. He directly states how he once “sought the grail,” directly referencing his involvement in the war, and being told that his youth “rose immortal semblances of a song.” Yet, in the final stanza, he states that despite how his views have changed, Sassoon says that “there is absolution in my songs.” How does this collection of his poems back up this statement? How do the themes presented represent the changes discussed in The Poet As Hero?

14 thoughts on “Daniella Colón’s Reading Questions for February 10th, 2022

  1. Poetry can be more difficult for the reader to understand. While novels can be more straightforward in describing the horrors of war. However, I think both forms of literature can be equally impactful. While reading Sassoon’s poetry, I had to go back and re-read his poems to try and understand what he was saying. But once I knew, the sadness or surprise behind the meaning of the poem would hit me. I would do the same with the other novels, All Quiet on the Western Front and Not so Quiet. But I would often understand reading it the first time, which actually can be more impactful as well. Because novels can be more descriptive and detailed about the war. So overall, poetry and impact the reader all at once, while novels can be more descriptive.

  2. I think your first question is interesting to look at. All Quiet and Not so Quiet give a bleak death that is seen more as a relief from the tragedies of life. Sassoon’s poetry captures the somber air but I would argue the long build up in novels make it more effective. Poetry can invoke the semblance of deep emotion with artistic word choice but a relationship with the dead while they are living is pivotal in the pain felt for their loss — both in their humanity and their body.

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