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"The Rear Guard"

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matthew wilson

on 13 May 2011

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Transcript of "The Rear Guard"

"The Rear Guard" Author: Siegfried Sassoon Matthew Wilson
1A, Due: 4/29/11 "The Rear Guard" Author: Siegfried Sassoon (Hindenburg Line, April 1917) Groping along the tunnel, step by step,
He winked his prying torch with patching glare
From side to side, and sniffed the unwholesome air.

Tins, boxes, bottles, shapes too vague to know,
A mirror smashed, the mattress from a bed;
And he, exploring fifty feet below
The rosy gloom of battle overhead

Tripping, he grabbed the wall; saw some one lie
Humped at his feet, half hidden by a rug,
And stooped to give the sleeper's arm a tug.
"I'm looking for headquarters." No reply.
"God blast your neck!" (For days he'd had no sleep.)
"Get up and guide me through this stinking place."
Savage, he kicked a soft, unanswering heap,
And flashed his beam across the livid face
Terribly glaring up, whoses eyes yet wore
Agony dying hard ten days before;
And fists of fingers clutched a blackening wound.

Alone he staggered on until he found
Dawn's ghost that filtered down a shafted stair
To the dazed, muttering creatures underground
Who hear the boom of shells in muffled sound.
At last, with sweat of horror in his hair,
He climbed through darkness to the twilight air,
Unloading hell behind him step by step. 5 Rhyme Scheme abbcdcdeffeghghiijjkllkkma Alitteration There is alliteration throughout the poem but here are some examples of some of the strongest present. Line 3: "From side to side, and sniffed the unwholesome air."

Line 9: "Humped at his feet, half-hidden by a rug,"

Line 18: "And fists of fingers clutched a blackening wound."

Line 23: "At last, with sweat of horror in his hair,"

Line 24: "He climbed through darkness to the twilight air," Personification Line 2: He winked his prying torch with patching glare

Line 20: Dawn's ghost that filtered down a shafted stair Imagery Line 16: Terribly galring up, whose eyes yet wore

Line 17: Agony dying hard ten days before;

Line 18: And fists of fingers clutched a blackening wound.

Line 24: He climbed through darkness to the twilight air,

Line 25: Unloading hell behind him step by step. Repetition Line 1: Groping along the tunnel, step by step,

Line 25: Unloading hell behind him step by step. Shift The shift occurs in between the third stanza and the fourth stanza. The last stanza is where the soldier realizes that he is probably going to die because he witnessed one of his comrades dieing. The diction seems to change to an even darker tone. These phrases seem to support: ghost, creatures underground, sweat of horror in his hair , darkness, and hell. Theme War is brutal and can be non-forgiving.This soldier staggered onwards to
search for headquarters and tried to survive the journey. Humans can keep
fighting and perservere when their lifes depend on it. Unfortunately,
I think in this particular instence death was inevitable. Unlike "The
Sleeper of the Valley" war poem that we did in class "The Rear Guard"
shows the morbid side of fighting. The previous poem showed the
peacefulness of dying but there was nothing peaceful about our new
character stuggling to live after witnessing death around him. "Mad World"
By: Gary Jules

All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world mad world

Children waiting for the day they feel good
Happy Birthday, Happy Birthday
And I feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kinda funny
I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying
Are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you
I find it hard to take
When people run in circles
It's a very, very mad world ... mad world
Enlarging your world
Mad world The theme of the poem coincides with the theme of the song, "Mad World". A soldier would have witnessed "worn out places, worn out faces" in his battles. The life of a soldier could end abrubtly so they could be thinking that there is "no tomorrow". After war it would not surprise me if i heard a soldier say, "The dreams in which i'm dying are the best I've ever had". I heard this song in a war game T.V. commercial so it could fit for the poem. Relevance Between Themes of the Song and the Poem Effect: The rhyme pattern changes afer every line which mixes things up and I think it gives the poem more variety. Effect: The personification gives depth to the poem and draws a better visual for the work. Effect: The more imagery a poem has contained in it, the better a reader will comprehend the work. I thought the imagery appealed to my senses which helps the poem as a whole. Effect: This repetition starts and ends the poem. Effect: The alliteration helps navigate through the poem and makes it easier to read. It also presents more imagery. 25 1 10 15 20 Tone The tone is suspenseful and it seems that the character is on his last life. He is fighting and trudging through the battlefield and the diction complements that. Example: Line 8: "Tripping, he grabbed the wall: saw some one lie" Siegfried Sassoon Just before the start of World War I, Sassoon joined the British Army. When the war started he injured his arm and was put out of action. His younger brother Hamo was killed in combat which hit Siegfried hard. He was put back into commission later and his poetry changed as a result. His grity realism of the horrors of war became prevalent in his writings.
The poem "The Rear Guard" was written in April of 1917 about the first world war. It was created to show the truths about war and to combat the war time propaganda. Speaker/Audience The poet narrates the tale of the soldier but the soldier is the speaker of the poem because he has lines in which he is speaking. The speaker sounds fatigued because he is groping along and staggering all over the place. He is impatient which is completely understandable. When he doesnt get any valuable information for his survival from a fallen comrade he kicks him while he is on the ground. The audience is all of the people at home thinking about joining the war effort. Sassoon was there to tell the realities about war and to educate people before they just jump into something without fully knowing the dangers. Interpretation Stanza 1: Our soldier must be tired or injured. He is probably scared becuase of the dark tunnel and what it may hold inside of it.
Stanza 2: All of the objects he sees probably overwhelms our speaker. He has got alot on his mind i assume.
Stanza 3: The speaker runs across a fallen soldier and probably thinks he has just saved his own life. That notion quickly fades when he cannot get a response from the man on the ground. I could imagine how hard it must have been to take in that sad truth that no one else could help.
Stanza 4: The slodier made it out of the tunnel but not out of the woods so to speak. Some might perceive this as him getting away with his life but there was still a war outside. He fired his gun on the way to search for headquarters. I hope he made it.

The first world war made this poem possible. Sassoon's insight and experiences from that time helped create this literary work. Title Significance "The Rear Guard" is talking about a soldier that was guarding the back of the rest of his troops. Relevance to Life This poem just warns about the horrors of war and now that the U.S. is in a war it really gives concrete examples of how brutal war life is. Works Consulted http://www.firstworldwar.com/poetsandprose/sassoon.htm http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/Jsassoon.htm http://www.poetryarchive.org/poetryarchive/singlePoet.do?poetId=1561
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