Siegfried Sassoon

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What is a stanza by stanza discussion of the poem "Blighters" by Siegfried Sassoon?

A stanza by stanza discussion of the poem "Blighters" would include a discussion of the ragtime group and audience members that make light of WWI. It would make note of certain word choices that reflect Sassoon's theme that civilians make light of war too much.

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In the first stanza, the speaker describes a music and dance hall filled to the brim with people who have come to laugh and enjoy themselves at "the Show." The audience watches the dancing girls, who the speaker calls "harlots," sing a light-hearted song about the "Kaiser." This refers to Kaiser Wilhelm II, the German emperor who is largely blamed for instigating World War I. It also refers to his tanks.

In the second stanza, the speaker says that he would like to see such a tank come rolling down the aisles to the sound of these ragtime songs. He feels certain that, if such a thing happened, there would be no more jokes or stupid songs about war. The speaker casts grave judgment on those who have participated in or enjoyed these shows. They make light of a horrifying and bloody war that neither the dancers or their audience can possibly understand. He uses words like "grin" and "cackle" to describe the motions of the audience, words like "harlots" and "shrill" and "drunk" to describe the dancers. All of these words have negative connotations compared to words like "smile" and "laugh" or "sing." In fact, the singing and enjoyment of such ridiculous songs seems to "mock the riddled corpses" that are strewn across the French countryside. Young men are out there, every day, fighting and dying, and those in the music hall seem oblivious to the true pain and suffering of war.

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