Lesson 1: Introduction to war poetry
Lesson Objective: To explore, understand and analyse poetry
need to look at a range of poems; 8 in total.
due to time, we will only analyse 6 poems in class. The other 2 poems can be analysed at home.
news is, you will only need to write about
¾ poems in the assessment. You choose.
have a look at the mark scheme.
Controlled Assessment task 'Explore
the ways different poets respond to the theme of death in war.’ *
use of imagery use of tone persona structure
Sassoon (1886-1967) was a British war poet and soldier.
was one of the major poets of World War One, and was a close friend and influence on fellow poet Wilfred Owen.
was one of the pioneers of realism in war poetry, and also wrote bitingly about senior officers who sent others to their deaths but did not fight themselves. He
was already a published poet before the First World War, but made his name as a war poet.
Sassoon was decorated for acts of bravery during the war, after a period of leave he decided that he could no longer support the war. He sent a declaration condemning the war and the government position to The
Times, which was also read out in Parliament. Sassoon was subsequently sent to Craiglockhart Military Hospital to be treated for shell-shock. He eventually returned to fight in the war.
Since the soldiers were so unprepared mentally for
the war, it is only natural that many suffered mental health problems.
Many officers believed that "shell-shock" was a
deliberate and cowardly attempt to avoid active duty. Thus, many mental health problems went
undocumented. Unfortunately, some soldiers chose to commit suicide than to continue on in the trenches. ‘Suicide in the Trenches’ by Siegfried Sassoon
to the song by Pete Doherty
listen to the same reading and which one has more impact on you?
- to cause someone to submit through intimidation
the loud sound made by an exploding shell
- light or set on fire
read the poem together.
groups, discuss your first thoughts and what effect the poem has on you. Feedback
to the class.
Structure: Suicide in the
The poem has three stanzas (verses) and 4 lines per stanza. Each stanza is divided into two rhyming couplets (2 lines).
Altogether, the poem is like a nursery rhyme.
Like a nursery rhyme, each line is in iambic tetrameter. What is this?
Iamb is a beat in a line of poetry where one unstressed syllable is followed by a stressed syllable. Sounding like a heartbeat: da
DUM da DUM da DUM da DUM.
When four beats are placed together in a line of poetry, it is called tetrameter.
When we combine iamb with tetrameter, it is a line of poetry with four beats of one unstressed syllable followed by one stressed syllable, and it is called iambic tetrameter.
sounds like: duh-DUH, duh-DUH, duh-DUH, duh-DUH. I
knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy
do you think Sassoon has written this poem as a nursery rhyme/iambic tetrameter?
do you think the poet was trying to achieve here when the subject matter is so dark?
uses the structure and rhyme scheme of a nursery rhyme to emphasise the young ages of the soldiers.
(contrast of two things placed close together) of innocence and horrific experience/ tragedy.
at the first two stanzas, what seasons have been created and what do you think the poet was trying to achieve here?
poem begins with spring, with reference to the lark. Spring is a symbol of youth, vitality, and beginnings. In the first stanza, the young