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The title "Glory of Women" draws readers in to enjoy a poem in which the poet speaks to the wondrous, female sex. The reader will certainly be surprised. The word "glory" in the title often has the spiritual connotation of miraculous or magnificence. Not the meaning Sassoon uses here. Ironically, he means to criticize how women act, perceive, and serve the war effort.
Another irony chosen by the poet is his use of a sonnet form. Normally, a sonnet ascribes pleasant and loving feelings to the subject. The sarcasm of the poem puts that aside in lieu of an indictment of females. Otherwise, as far as the other tenets of the sonnet, Sassoon achieves them successfully.
The poet uses several literary devices to achieve his effect. The following are examples from the poem:
- chivalry-the Arthurian legend;
- laurelled-the Greek wreathe of victory;
- crowned-the British monarchy
- ...by tales of dirt and danger
- ...mourn our laurelled memories
- ...you make us shells ( a comparison between the lack of understand on the woman's part toward the emptiness this gives the man)
- ...you crown our distant ardours while we fight (the woman thinks romantically about the love of her soldier while he is shooting and killing people)
The poet condemns women who wait at home while the men fight and die:
1. Women only love the heroes when they are home from the battle or if their wound can be discussed. For example, Sassoon suffered from battle fatigue and was hospitalized for it. The injuries of the mind would not have been discussed.
You worship decorations. you believe
That chivalry redeems the war's disgraces...
2. The women would listen to the battle stories. They were like made-up stories told for entertainment. The soldiers lived this reality and women did not seem to understand the truth.
3. Naive would be a word that Sassoon would choose to describe women who sent their men to fight heroically without thinking of the consequences: death, maiming, killing. The reality of the situation again escapes the women. Patriotism includes understanding what is really happening and supporting the men in practical, meaningful ways.
4. Finally, Sassoon paints the picture that he knows of the actualities of war:
When hell's last horror breaks them and they run,
Trampling the terrible corpses--blind with blood...
Obviously, Sassoon had seen some horrific tableaux in his war experiences.
His last comment illustrates that it not just the British women who do not face the authenticity of war...the German women sit at home making socks for their men while they too die a horrible death in war.
While women are concerning themselves with the frivolities of life, men are out there dying in the mud. Their bodies no longer discernable; they become just another dead body on a large field of other dead bodies, while women sit at home knitting.
Siegfried Sassoon was born in 1886. He was an English poet, author, and soldier in the British army. He became of the most popular poets from WWI. Injured several times during the war, Sassoon was changed after the war emotionally and this carried through to the tone of his writing. His earlier writing was rromantic, but his war poetry exhibits the ugly truths of war. He wrote about rotting corpses, limbs, and cowardice during the battles.
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