Junior Cert Higher Level – Sample question
Discuss a poem you have studied that uses strong imagery.
A poem that I have studied that uses strong imagery is Base Details by Siegfried Sassoon. It is a satire written during World War I in the voice of a young soldier. Sassoon himself had experience at the front and wrote this poem to expose the hypocrisy and callousness of the majors in charge of sending men in to war while they remained a safe distance from battle. The poem has a strong anti-war theme.
By comically imagining himself as a major, the speaker in the poem reveals the privileged, carefree life lived by those more senior officers. The first line of the poem immediately gives us an image of how the soldiers at the front envisioned the majors:
“If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,”
Straight away I imagine this major to be an older man because he is bald and I imagine him to be unfit and overweight because he is short of breath. The use of the word short, although referring to his breath, also makes me think that he is neither tall nor imposing. This image comes easily to mind but doesn’t tally with the use of the word ‘fierce’ so I can tell that the poet is being sarcastic. He has no respect at all for these majors.
The poet goes on to say that this major would live at the Base, safely removed from the real danger at the front line:
“And speed glum heroes up the line to death.”
The use of the word ‘speed’ implies enthusiasm, even glee. I have the image of a man who is enjoying his job as he sends more and more men to their deaths. I can picture him smiling cheerfully and nodding his head as he oversees a conveyor belt sending fresh soldiers to the slaugher. The use of slender vowel assonance in the line, with the words ‘speed’ and ‘line’, strengthens this image by picking up the pace of the line.
Our sense of the major’s disregard for the men’s lives is heightened by the knowledge that he himself is at no risk. He...
Base Details By Siegfried Sassoon Essay
Base Details by Siegfried Sassoon
Base Details is a poem by Siegfried Sassoon and is about how better
off the majors were in the First World War, compared to the good men
that were dying on the front line. It goes into detail about how the
majors were unfit, incompetent old men who did nothing. They were too
willing to send men to their deaths and give everyone orders, while
they lived their luxurious lives and earned lots of money. It has a
regular rhyme scheme except the last two sentences that rhyme.
Sassoon's intention to write this poem was to show how angry he was at
the stuck up majors because they did nothing and got the high life,
while dying soldiers were fighting for their country. He says what he
would be like and do if he was a major and makes a mockery out of
them. He also tries to show injustice because the old soldiers lived
and the young, fit soldiers died.
The words used in this poem are very simple and direct but are very
effective. Sassoon proves that the majors are lazy and in poor
condition by using certain words and sentences,
'If I was fierce, and bald, and out of breath, I'd be with the scarlet
majors at the base'.
Here Sassoon is saying that if he was big, fat and got easily out of
breath, he would be a scarlet major (refers to high up rank, and also
the colour red equalling anger and unfitness).
'You'd see me with my puffy petulant face'.
This implies that the majors are fat by the word 'puffy' and petulant
means impatient and easily irritated. The poet also proves that the
majors are stuck up by using words like 'glum' and 'chap'. These are
words that the working class would not have usually used. The name
'Base' is the military quarters but also implies that the majors don't
fight, they get fatter and more unfit and all they have to do is read
a 'roll of honour'.
Only few figures of speech are used. For...
Loading: Checking Spelling0%