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 about tall handsome men doing their duty to their country. He uses powerful imagery to show us the real appearance of these Majors. Short, dumpy, unfit and grumpy. Not exactly the glamorous sight we had imagined. This impression we get is also increased by the use of commas throughout the first line. It gives the feeling of the person writing it being very out of breath, gasping for air every other word.
Moving on to include lines 2 and 3, we receive another revelation about the Majors, their callous disregard for human life, namely that of the young soldiers they were commanding. These majors would stay at the army base, well away from the front line, in the warm and dry, quite comfortable, whilst...