Suicide In The Trenches Poem
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
Suicide in the Trenches is a poem, composed by Siegfried Sassoon, the great war poet during the first world war (1914-1918). Like most of Sassoon’s poetry, Suicide in The Trenches is inspired by the poet’s personal experiences as a soldier. It was first published in 1918, a collection of poems called ‘Counter-Attack and Other Poems’. The poem is an illustration of the futility of war and the folly of the persons who are engaged in war. After being wounded in action, Sassoon wrote a letter of protest to the war department refusing to fight anymore.
“I believe that this War is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.”
About Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Sassoon is remembered for his angry and compassionate poems about World War I. He was an English war poet, writer, and soldier. Sasson’s poetry often criticized and expressed anger towards those whom he believed caused the war. He was the friend of Robert Graves and Wilfred Owen. Siegfried Sassoon also was the mentor of Owen. Among his world-famous war poems included – The Troops, Trench Duty, Break of Day, Before the Battle, I Stood with The Dead, Attack, Counter Attack, The Effect, The Death Bed, The Hero, The Last Meeting, and Banishment.
Form and Structure Of the Poem
Suicide in The Trenches is written in three quatrains, which means the poem has a total of 12 lines. It is written in iambic tetrameter. The rhyme scheme of each quatrain is – AABB.
Themes Of The Poem
War is the theme of Suicide in The Trenches. The poet focuses on how the horrors of war impact young soldiers, like the man who chooses to kill himself rather than spend more time in the trenches of World War I. He also focuses on how soldiers are celebrated and quickly forgotten by the public.
About The Title
The title suggests the suicide of someone in a trench because he seeks solace and is desperate and unhappy with the existing condition of life. The poet stresses the fact that the government should at least improve the conditions of the soldier; the people who are most dedicated to serving society and the nation as a whole.
Suicide In The Trenches Poem Analysis
Suicide in The Trenches begins with the excitement of a young boy who seeks adventure to overcome his meaningless life. The first stanza is about the innocent guy who became a soldier. He led a happy youthful life. He used to enjoy the dark night with a peaceful sleep and would rise with great happiness whistling along with larks. The peaceful life of an innocent boy represents the peace and happiness of every individual. They are free from the sound of bombs, gunfire, or shells. They enjoy the sweet sound of nature. Their day begins with the sound of birds. Such innocent boys are persuaded to join the army to serve their country.
In the second stanza, the readers could sense the seriousness of the soldier’s thoughts. The soldier is depressed by the explosions of the shells, lack of rum, and insect bites. He is driven to the extreme and shoots himself in the head. After his demise, no one spoke of him again. Soon he is forgotten by Society.
In the third stanza, the poet describes the nature of the community and their approach toward the soldiers, The Smug-faced crowds clap and applaud the soldiers with fiery eyes marching through the streets. But the soldiers pass they hurry back home and pray to God he will never go through the war (hell) which could destroy the youth and laughter of the innocents.
Sassoon wants the readers to understand the fact that how important soldiers are for any country. He also explains the selflessness and the love for the country of a Soldier.
A Soldier is also a normal individual who could have selected any other occupation instead of fighting for his country but he does so just because he loves his motherland more than himself and his family and is selflessly keeping the people of a nation from any external danger. The government should provide the best living conditions possible for the army. He feels that love and harmony should prevail in all nations. Just because of the hatred of a few people, the innocent families of the soldiers suffer.
The poet is using literature to portray his hatred for war and like conditions. He is very angry with the fact that soldiers are not given what is minimum required, proper living conditions.
Sassoon also points out the sharp difference between apparent patriotism and people’s hypocrisy. People sing patriotic songs and express their patriotic feeling, but when it comes to serving the nation they take a step backward.
Thus, Suicide in the Trenches” is actually criticizing the loneliness, health conditions, patriotism, and also the lack of resources that the soldiers faced while they are in the trenches. The poem actually describes the grief of each and every soldier who fights for the country. Though the soldiers carry a deep feeling of patriotism for their country still they are not provided with optimum facilities during the war by the country.
Now we can say that Suicide in The Trenches is one of the best patriotic poems written by for which can still the significance of patriotism among the readers.