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The Call by W.N.Hodgson
Transcript of The Call by W.N.Hodgson
Hodgson was the fourth and youngest child of Henry Bernard Hodgson, the Bishop of Saint Edmundsbury and Ipswich.
Known as "Smiler" to his friends, he volunteered for the British Army on the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and served in the 9th Battalion of the Devonshire Regiment.
For the first year of the War he was training in England, before landing at Le Havre on 28 July, 1915 and being sent to trenches near Festubert.
His first major offensive came on 25 September during the Battle of Loos. Stanza 5... Stanza 6... Kennedy's
Personal Insight...... The wonderful white dawns of frost and flame
In winter, and the swift sun’s upward leap;
Or summer’s stealthy wakening that came
Soft as a whisper on the lips of sleep.
And there were woodland hollows of green lawn,
Where boys with windy hair and wine wet lips
Danced on the sun-splashed grass; and hills of dawn
That looked out seaward to the distant ships.
•Positive imagery – paints an image of young boys dancing in fields, ‘danced’
•Use of the word ‘boys’ emphasises how young the boys were when they went to war, could have used ‘men’ but used ‘boys’ instead for highlight this point
•‘wine wet lips’ is ambiguous, he could be referring to the colour of the boys lips (the colour of wine) OR he could be suggesting that they had been drinking wine
•‘sun-splashed grass’ alliteration, give the impression is summer
•‘there were’ suggests he’s referring to the past tense
•‘distant ships’ – war ships He was mentioned in despatches and awarded the Military Cross for holding a captured trench for 36 hours without reinforcements or supplies during the battle and he was subsequently promoted to lieutenant.
He was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme when attacking German trenches near Mametz.
He was bombing officer for his battalion during the attack, and was killed by a machine gun positioned at a shrine whilst taking grenades to the men in the newly captured trenches. The bullet went through his neck, killing him instantly.
He is buried in Devonshire Cemetery in Mansell Copse. Personal
Insight Stanza 3... In infinite still night the moon swam low
And saffron in a silver dusted sky;
Beauty and sorrow hand in hand with slow
Soft wings and soundless passage wandered by
•Change of scenery from third stanza – now he’s referring to the night time
•‘moon swam low’, emphasising how low the moon was by personifying it
•Saffron = a red spice, could illustrate the skies were filled with red. Red of blood shed during war.
•‘beauty and sorrow’ juxtaposition – the two words are like opposites
•‘soft wings’ the idea of innocence, could be referring to the innocence of the young soldiers
•‘soundless passage wandered by’ – personification Stanza 4... Ah! We have dwelt in Arcady long time
With sun and youth eternal round our ways
And in the magic of that golden clime
We loved the pageant of the passing days. Stanza 1 ... •‘!’ = gets the reader’s attention and Hodgeson is stressing to the reader how important this poem is and how important it is to understand what he is trying to convey.
•Personal pronoun ‘We’ = directly addresses the reader so the reader feels involved and maybe they feel like Hodgeson is having a personal conversation with them.
•Religious connotations ‘eternal’ = suggests that youth is eternal like the sun and will live on into the next life. •Full stop at the end of stanza = death connotation.
•Sibilance of the letter ‘s’ = continues rhythm of poem. Calm feel to the poem and forshadows the last word in the stanza as the sibilance reflects peace and sleep.
•Ceasura = the conditions were too harsh to think about. Moment of reflection?
•‘frost and flame’ Oxymoron = Idea of the contrast of hot and cold, the conditions of the trenches could vary from day to day. Could also forshadow the contrast between the home front and the front line. Or simply the transformations of conditions as the seasons move from summer to winter. And white roads vanishing beneath the sky
Called for our feet, and there were countless things
That we must see and do, while blood was high
And time still hovered on reluctant wings. •White roads connotes heaven
•The verb 'vanishing' suggests it happened suddenly/quickly
•'Countless things...' suggests that there are experiences that they need to go through as children/adolescents before they could be ready for war
•Line 4 is personification of time, 'hovered' suggests it is moving slowly - dragging. Has negative connotations
•'Reluctant wings' implies that boys were reluctant to learn - just like normal children they're too eager to grow up
And these were good; yet in our hearts we knew
These were not all, - that still through toil and pains
Deeds of a purer lustre given to few,
Made for the perfect glory that remains. Stanza 7... And when the summons in our ears was shrill
Unshaken in our trust we rose, and then
Flung but a backward glance, and care-free still
Went strongly forth to do the work of men
•'Shrill' has sinister connotations, like something evil is screeching and forcing them to fight
•'Unshaken in our trust' they never doubted their decision and trusted the propaganda
•'Rose' connotes a great power
•'Flung but a backward glance' suggests that they looked back momentarily but then went to France anyway, adds to the reflective tone
•'Care-free still' makes them seem naive but reflects how young they were and how the propaganda made the war seem like it would be easy
•'Strongly' implies courage
•'Do the work of men.' suggests a number of things:
- he is implying that only men are supposed to die for their country
- only men can/should kill others or fight
- they are no longer children, they have no choice but to grow up
•'And these were good;' caesura suggests either hesitation or reflection
•'Our hearts' suggests feeling is mutual, felt by all soldiers
•'toil and pain...' communicates that growing up is a struggle but once you get through it everything is ok
•'Perfect glory that remains' supports this and suggests that once you've grown up life everything else is 'glorious'
- I think this poem is about how the soldiers were forced to leave their childhood and youth behind too quickly. It implies that they had to sacrifice vital experiences that would have shaped their futures and instead had to go straight into doing a "man's job" Melissa's
Personal Insight... I think this poem is about how the beautiful landscape that the war was fought on could be made to look and feel so ugly. I also think that Hodgeson is comparing the pure, untouched landscape to the young boys who are going off to fight in the war to personify their innocence and purity.
Another interpretation I understood was that it was a political attack on how propaganda displays war to the home front and the reality of the soldiers feelings and experiences on the western front. P = E = L = E = P = E = E = L =