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Looking at themes and language, how apt a conclusion are the final four lines of "prelude: The Troops"?

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Introduction

Maria Tennant 13D Looking at themes and language, how apt a conclusion are the final four lines of "prelude: The Troops"? In the last four lines of Sassoon's "prelude: The Troops" the poem can be seen to turn full circle from the bitter, angry voice of Sassoon grieving for the war dead back to a more detached criticism of the futility of war which is highlighted earlier on in the poem. Throughout the piece there is the recurring motif of hopelessness, which is summed up in the last few lines by Sassoon's reference to "The unreturning army that was youth". This can be seen to imply that, at least for Sassoon's generation, all hope is lost as the cost in human life is realised by him. ...read more.

Middle

His use of assonance and repetition of soft consonants as in "gloom" and "gradual" produce an image lacking clarity. Indeed, Sassoon uses a mixture of physical and metaphysical language to develop this idea e.g.: "shapeless gloom". Language such as this gives the poem several different levels. Firstly, perhaps Sassoon can be seen to convey the confusion that exists in war; words such as "shapeless gloom" could be interpreted in the literal sense. On the other hand, the "shapeless gloom" that Sassoon describes could be a metaphor of his and his fellow men's future as it suggests the men's life at the front as being indefinite and depressing. This is then reiterated by Sassoon's point at the end of the poem that millions of soldiers die pointlessly only to suffer and eventually become "dust". ...read more.

Conclusion

This idea is echoed in the last four lines of the poem as he states his "companions" will travel to Valhalla. The idea of an ancient heaven for war heroes can be seen as an appropriate ending for the poem for various reasons. The sense of suffering of the soldiers as depicted in the first and middle stanzas "Haggard and hopeless" suggests these men deserve a special type of paradise fit only for soldiers. However, perhaps too, Sassoon is insinuating that they are now beyond a Christian type of afterlife as they have experienced such an unchristian event. Certainly by the end of the poem, the reader is made aware of Sassoon's stance on the First World War. From the beginning he creates an atmosphere of doom and hopelessness through language whilst suggesting he is bitter about his experience with war. ...read more.

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