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Essay on Dead Man's Dump & Attack

In: English and Literature

Submitted By deronss
Words 1612
Pages 7
In relation to World War One poetry, “Dead Man’s Dump” by Isaac Rosenberg and “Attack” by Siegfried Sassoon, I agree that thematic concerns are developed through the extensive use of symbolism and imagery. A poet is an artist and the poetry he writes is his art. The words he uses to write them, however, are the ever so essential paint brushes and tools used to create art. Through their meticulous choice of words, Rosenberg and Sassoon effectively conveyed their outlook on the concept of way and helped myself, the reader, to understand the destructive nature of war. Thus, the use of imagery and symbolism is imperative in order for the reader to fully understand their argument.
“Dead Man’s Dump” follows the journey of a limber navigating through a scene of horror littered with “sprawled dead.” One of the key themes developed in “Dead Man’s Dump” through the use of symbolism and imagery is the idea of war stripping an individual of any power or control. War is symbolically depicted as a “shrieking pyre” that the soldiers were “flung on” to. This is a direct metaphor towards war being a ‘dead man’s dump’ and helps us understand that Rosenberg perceives war as a funeral pyre because war instigates death and the men who are drafted in war might as well be “flung on to a shrieking pyre.” The limber that is carrying the “rusty freight” or barbed wires is embodied as “many crowns of thorns… stuck out… over the shattered track/ Upon our brothers dear.” This religious allusion is representative of the crown of thorns placed over Christ’s head preceding his crucifixion. In war, the establishment of barbed wire indicates territorial inauguration and hence the commencement of war. In accordance to the “crown of thorns”, it can be seen as an evocative symbol of how the men in war have been betrayed and misinformed by those behind the safety of their desk. This allusion exemplifies the sad truth; these men will be sacrificed to save their country just like Christ was. This was a stimulating technique to examine because Rosenberg was Jewish and still did not refrain from using a Christian allusion. This is because the use of Christian imagery vindicates his argument and makes it interpretable to a wider audience. This makes sense because the central goal of all war poets was to disseminate the bitter truth of war.
As the limber plunges “over the shattered track” a convincing image of “the wheels lurched over the sprawled dead” show us soldiers “friend and foeman” who “lie there huddled.” This incarnates the fact that the boundaries of war have been broken because, essentially, the soldiers are “man born of man and man born of woman.” This conveys are very influential message of equality because, regardless of where they come from, they are all human and are all equal. They were supposedly enemies, with whom which the war coerced segregation; but death finally reunites them. The notion that death leads to unity makes me wander of death was a better place than war seeing as death results in freedom from the clutches of this manmade hatred labelled as ‘war.’ The techniques and examples mentioned above evoke strong emotions because Rosenberg’s savage imagery and visceral symbolism gives us a first-hand experience of how he felt about war and the messages he wanted to convey. Furthermore, this resulted in me to challenge the whole idea of war and I came to realize that death might have been a more peaceful option for some of the soldiers because war not only “shattered” the earth: it “shattered” the soldiers’ lives. I really admire the cacophonic structure of the poem because it gives us a first-hand experience of the brutal reality of war. It is apparent that Rosenberg refrained from using common nouns in his writing. We witness no bullet or corpses. This absence of a specified referent insinuates the poems modernity: the carnage surpasses all accounts of war leaving the speaker and myself, as the reader, in an agonizing search for words to describe the indescribable. Death. And so, thematic concerns related to the destructive nature of war are constantly emphasized through the use of symbolism and imagery. I believe the themes that Rosenberg explored were interesting to examine because they are still relevant today. The destructive nature of war is evident in countries such as Cambodia where more than 80% of the populace live under the poverty line. It wasn’t always this way. These innocent people are forced to live In such horrible conditions because on-going war in their country depleted their financial supplies. Those wars ceased only 5 years ago. Appalling. It is a complete and utter shame that the human race failed to learn such a valuable lesson from their past mistakes and allowed the continuation of such atrocities.
Similar to “Dead Man’s Dump”, “Attack” by Siegfried Sassoon also explored the powerlessness of the soldier during battle. “At dawn the ridge emerges/ smouldering through… smoke that shroud…” From the outset of the poem, we are introduced to such gruesome imagery. Sassoon deliberately omitted an introductory equilibrium from the poem to signify the fact that there is no peace in war as well as the fact that war can never restore peace; it is the premonition of destruction. Instead, his meticulous choice of the verb “shroud” symbolically presaged that a death shroud will inevitably cover those who will soon lose their life in battle. Hence, his shrewd choice of structure elucidated his point and helped us, the reader, understand the destructive nature of war; it needs not only rage but sacrifices in the form of life to fuel the violence and destruction. As the “bristling fire” commences, “lines of grey, muttering faces, masked with fear” leave their trenches. This metaphor provides us with a compelling image of how the soldiers would have felt knowing that they would “jostle and climb” to their dissolution. This is thought-provoking because it illustrates the reality of the effect of war on the soldiers as opposed to the chivalrous representation that the media imposed on society. This also links to Sassoon’s “Suicide in the trenches” where he elaborates on the resentment towards the “smug-faced crowd” that were oblivious to the feelings of the soldier. Sassoon was a combatant who cared greatly for his comrades. Much so, that he acquired the sobriquet of “Mad Jack” after single-handedly rescuing his comrades from the German trenches. Sassoon could not “bear to see my friends mowed down and gassed night after night” and so he lost all hope seeing as he felt powerless for not being able to aid his dying comrades. Nonetheless, “hope, with furtive eyes/ flaunders in mud.” I felt that this line was particularly enthralling to analize because, in just one stanza, Sassoon managed to establish this figure of hope before brutally obliterating ‘it.’ This incarnation of hope is de-allegorized by the omission of the capital ‘H’ due to its residue metaphysical existence. This simple omission is yet another structural symbolism of the powerlessness of these men as they aren’t even able to secure their own hope. They are running to their demise and there’s simply nothing they can do about it. With that said, hope’s “furtive eyes and grappling fists” denote a completely physical being. This graphic imagery provides us with a contradicting depiction of hope and leads to consternation. I completely agree that the thematic concerns related to powerlessness were developed through the use of symbolism and imagery and I believe Sassoon when he said that “Attack” was “deliberately written to disturb complacency” of those who succumbed to oblivion.
Though two distinct being unaware of one another’s existence, both Sassoon and Rosenberg shared the same experiences, perception, and insight. They both experienced the hideous charnel was and therefore both uses blatant imagery, with biting realism, their horrifying experiences. Not to mention their anger and frustration towards the powerlessness and betrayal. The fact that both poems were written in third person made the narrator seem omniscient. This was an affirmation towards their insight into war due to their gruesome experiences. The intricate structure of the two poems is also a noteworthy connection. To be specific, in both “Attack” and “Dead Man’s Dump” the distinct voice of the speaker is identified through their detached tone. Nonetheless, the beginning of “Attack” is wholly detached devoid of any human connection whereas “Dead Man’s Dump” is far more intimate. This is because Rosenberg is more expressive in the way he writes due to his brutal imagery and blatantly direct speech pattern. Conversely, “Attack” is more blunt and realistic thus demonstrating a less emotive approach. The fact that both these poets shared the same resentment towards war appealed to me as the constant use of imagery and symbolism provided me with a horrid mental picture of the atrocities of war. It has also provided me with profound insight into war and the unavoidable destruction that follows. Rosenberg’s description of the Earth’s “bowel seared by jiggered fire [of bombs]” and Sassoon’s account of “the scarred slope” clearly portrays the damage war causes to the environment that breathes us life and shelter. The effects of war on our environment are still apparent today. Afghanistan was once a beautiful country enveloped by green radiance: was. Sadly, the on-going war has “drained the wild honey” out of the beautiful land and transformed it into a hideous site of sand and dun.
Conclusively, the astute and controlled use of symbolism and imagery were integral in aiding the poets’ express their feelings and developing thematic concerns in relation to World War One poetry.…...

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