After spending some time serving in World War I and even being awarded a medal for his valor, Siegfried Sassoon wrote a letter to the war department which vehemently proclaimed his protests regarding the war. Sassoon was a poet before the war started, so after his experience, he used poetry as a platform for delivering his anti-war sentiments, which are conveyed in this poem.
This poem is an examination of the true costs of war. While wars are often presented to the public as a means of maintaining honor and the soldiers are frequently lauded for their great and death-defying abilities, the reality is that there are great costs to these young men who are fortunate enough to return home from war efforts.
The title points to a third-person "They," yet the perspective of the narrator is first person, referenced as "us" in the very first line. From the opening, then, the narrator draws a line between "us" and "they" and between fantasy and reality. "They" send the young soldiers to battle,...
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