In the poem “Suicide in the Trenches” Siegfried Sassoon uses figurative language, descriptive detail, tone, structure and sound to create a powerful impression of the horror and wastage of war. War is viewed as a product of ignorance and it is equated with intense suffering and the destruction of all that is beautiful and innocent.
The first stanza of the poem depicts a boy who is too “simple” or naive to understand the true horrific nature of war.
The boy is described as carefree with no worries and sees nothing bad in life; he was a normal boy. He is able to sleep with no worries in a “lonesome” place with no light or hope unaware that his life is to change dramatically. The tone in this stanza is quiet upbeat for a poem that is about war and death. The boy symbolizes all the guys that went to war for us and lost their lives in many different horrific situations.
Stanza two presents imagery, which provides a stark contrast to the descriptive detail in stanza one. We notice the effects of war on this once innocent and simple boy. Sassoon describes the trenches as being a cold and depressing place with below average living standards.
In the third line the boy “puts a bullet through his brain” a quick and deliberate end to his life. The pressure of war got to him and with a pull of the trigger he was forgotten about, as many soldier boys were when they passed on.
Stanza three uses powerful and confronting language to highlight the fact that the war is based on ignorance and hypocrisy. By the abrupt use of the second person to open the stanza it makes the opening line seem confronting and vulgar. Sassoon put the people to shame by telling them to “sneak home” for they are cowards. This stanza has an angry tone to it, which creates guilt to the readers.
“Suicide in the Trenches” is an antiwar poem, which appeals to both emotions and interest to the audience because of its effective use of techniques and language.