Literary Analysis Of The Rear Guard, By Siegfried Sassoon

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Siegfried Sassoon takes on a narrative style in his poem “The Rear-Guard”, and combines it with complex syntax to portray the speaker’s horrific experiences throughout the war. The poem exposes a soldier’s experience of finding the violent battlefield above while searching through the death-filled tunnels below. Pairing the speaker’s point of view with specific word choice clearly demonstrates the excruciating mental and physical pain being a soldier inflicts, and leaves a glooming effect on the reader. Sassoon fills the poem with explicit imagery to reveal the pacifist theme he is trying to convey. Sassoon wants the audience to realize that war and violence is not the solution, and he portrays this theme through his poetry. Sassoon’s harsh, realistic descriptions of what soldiers witness begins the poem with an uncomfortable feeling. The speaker, a soldier in the midst of a battle, is “groping along the tunnel, step by step” (1). When Sassoon describes the speaker as “groping” through the tunnel, it creates a helpless image of the speaker trying to survive. This describes the soldier’s possible feeling of helplessness and dire need for the war to end. Concluding the same stanza are the words “From side to side, and sniffed the unwholesome air” (3). The pattern of the words “step by step” and “side to side” resemble how soldiers march in a formation. The speaker has these words looming over him as a finds his way through the tunnels. The military is associated with

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