Base Details, by Siegfried Sassoon

Length: 4 Pages 920 Words

Siegfried Sassoon is a much admired writer of war poetry, and in his work, “Base Details” we have plenty justification for that admiration. This poem takes the often glorified image of the Majors from World War 1 and strips them bare showing them for their true selves, sending out to us the feeling he has of these Majors being worthy of none of the respect they have ever received. He skilfully uses the powerful medium that is poetry, combines it with his mastery of literary techniques such as word-choice, imagery, rhythm and sound, to create an extremely critical view of the way WW1 was conducted. The very first thing we notice about this poem is of course the title. The words “Base Details” could be taken to be talking about an actual army base. On the other hand they could be taking another meaning of the word “base”, which is dishonourable, and thus getting the title, dishonourable details, which is very much in line with the tone of this poem, which is unyielding, right from the very beginning. This of course only heightens the impact of the first line. “If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,” line 1 There, in that first, single line, Sassoon destroys any preconceptions we might have had abo Continue...


'Poor young chap,' I'd say - 'I used to know his father well; Yes, we've lost heavily in this last scrap. These majors would stay at the army base, well away from the front line, in the warm and dry, quite comfortable, whilst hurrying brave young men with their whole lives ahead of them, up to the front line, ultimately to die. There is a kind of irony, moving from the word 'scrap', to the words 'youth stone dead' in the last 2 lines of the poem. "And when the war is done and youth stone dead, I'd toddle safely home and die - in bed. Not exactly the glamorous sight we had imagined. Word Count: 950 Time: 1hour, 30 minutes. The use of the word 'stone' adds to the feeling, that there is nothing. Perhaps it would have been softer on the reader to have thought these officers would get their just rewards, be killed in a bombing, or fatally wounded in a car crash. Lines 10-11 From the Major's dismissal of the battle as if it were meaningless, we now have the cold, bitter truth of it all. The Major casually chats about a soldier who has just died, calling him 'young chap', like nothing serious has happened. And to the Majors it seems that's all they are. No, instead they totter off home, quite the happy gentlemen, to die, peacefully in their sleep. He uses powerful imagery to show us the real appearance of these Majors. It gives the feeling of the person writing it being very out of breath, gasping for air every other word. Murdered by their enemies, and also by their own leaders.