Poem And Exposure And Counter Attack By Siegfried Sassoon

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English - Poetic Movement Speech

Good morning/afternoon 10 English 2 and Miss Cush. Today I will be comparing 2 poems from our poetic movement of poetry of the first world war and outlining how they reflect the social, cultural and historical influences. The poems I have chosen to compare are ‘Exposure’ by Wilfred Owen and ‘Counter Attack’ by Siegfried Sassoon.

Owen’s poem ‘Exposure’ is focused on what the soldiers felt on the battle field. Although there is absolutely no engagement with the enemy directly from beginning to end, they are still exposed to the elements of nature surrounding them and the psychological tension of warfare. The extreme cold is especially horrifying as conditions such as hyperthermia may occur. On the other hand, Sassoon’s poem ‘Counter
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The reaction against ‘cannon fodder’ concepts of war are strong in both poems. This means that soldiers were treated as mere pawns on a chess board. This is strongly seen in stanza one of ‘Counter Attack’, with the description of the soldiers. “Pallid, unshaven and thirsty” and “the place was rotten with dead”. The soldiers were pale and unclean, plus there was no respect given to the dead. This is further highlighted in Owen’s ‘Exposure’, where the weather is described as “mad gusts tugging on the wire, like twitching agonies of men among its brambles” and “dawn… attacks once more in ranks on shivering ranks of grey,”. The first description is a simile and personification where Owen compares a gust of wind to the dying men trapped in it. He is highlighting this to show that “canon fodder” concepts are not the way to go otherwise there will be a massive loss of life. The second description uses monochrome colour imagery which symbolises the dull and sad aspects of it. This highlights the effect of hopelessness for the soldiers fighting as they have to battle the weather as well. Again he is showing that they are treated as mere
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