Glory of Women – Siegfried Sassoon You love us when we’re heroes, home on leave,? Or wounded in a mentionable place.? You worship decorations; you believe? That chivalry redeems the war’s disgrace.? You make us shells. You listen with delight,? By tales of dirt and danger fondly thrilled.? You crown our distant ardours while we fight,? And mourn our laurelled memories when we’re killed.? You can’t believe that British troops “retire”? When hell’s last horror breaks them, and they run,? Trampling the terrible corpses–blind with blood.?
O German mother dreaming by the fire,? While you are knitting socks to send your son? His face is trodden deeper in the mud. Siegfried Sassoon was one of the great war poets of World War I, as well as a military hero and an admired writer of prose. He became known as a writer of satirical anti-war verse during the First World War, where he offered a violent yet realistic representation of war, through his poetry. ‘’Glory of Women’’ was written in 1917. The role of women during the Great War has been portrayed in many different ways throughout poetry.
In “Glory of Women’’, Siegfried Sassoon makes adequate use of irony within the structure and content in order to represent his view of the role of the young, working, British woman during this time period. It was a crucial time for women with so many men going to war and in response; women came in to replace the men. Women were stereotyped to perform traditional tasks such as nursing, selling war bonds, munitions and factory working, which however changed. When you first come across the title of the poem ‘’Glory of Women’’, one may take the title of the poem literally and assume that Siegfried Sassoon is glorifying women.
However, one comes to realize that the word ‘’glory’’ is used ironically. In the ‘’Glory of Women’’, Siegfried Sassoon is speaking in second person as he directly refers to the women of World War I. He uses words such as ‘’we’’ instead of ‘’I’’ to address himself as the narrator of the poem. This is meaningful because he acts as a representative for many men, rather than just one man speaking for himself, where many men could represent the many soldiers that have returned from war.
In this fourteen-lined Italian Petrarchan sonnet, the rhyme scheme is regular, with an ‘’a, b, a, b, c, d, c, d’’ rhyme, making it appear as a Shakespearean sonnet. However, towards the ending there is a slight change where it becomes ‘’e, f, g, e, f, g’’, which is an Italian Petrarchan sonnet. This change of rhyme scheme could suggest the change in the women’s life, as when the men went to war, the women became a lot more crucial. Each line of the poem is almost written in iambic pentameter, which indicates that each line has five feet, with an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.
Sassoon uses both alliteration and imagery to emphasize his narration on women. For example, Sassoon employs alliteration in the first line with the words ‘’heroes’’ and ‘’home’’ which makes us think about the relationship between a ‘’hero’’ and ‘’home’’. Heroes are only thought of as heroic after they have completed a menacing accomplishment; they gain their honorable reputations when they return home, and thus the people whom they return to determine their status. There is also slight alliteration in the phrase ‘’dirt and danger’’ which emphasizes the fact that being in jeopardy, is so filthy.
Sassoon emphasizes the raw and bloody nature of battle. Furthermore, the words “delight” and thrilled” are used to describe the reactions of the women upon hearing battle stories; it is almost as if they are actually happy to hear the horrors that the soldiers faced. While the men are out fighting on the frontlines of battle, the women sit idly and chat casually with one another, bragging about the hardships of the soldiers. By emphasizing certain words as being related, Sassoon forces associations between words in order to further demonstrate his negative feelings toward the women of World War I.
For example, Sassoon creates a kind of similarity between the words “chivalry” and “disgrace. ” The repetition of the word ‘’you’’ is used throughout the poem, to get the reader involved, as it feels as if the narrator is directing to the reader. There aren’t any simile’s used in the poem which shows that there is no comparison between two things. The images that I perceive are strongly to do with the death of soldiers, with the women waiting anxiously at home. “You make us shells”—in WWI, many women were recruited to munitions factories; this is a job that had only been held by men previously.
Working in the factories gave women a new sense of independence and after the war they wanted to continue working. They provided the equipment of death. There is a period in the middle of the line, which is strange, but does persuade an emphatic effect because the line is so terse and abrupt. Also, the tone of this line is oozing with sarcasm, as if to say that making shells is a very small feat in comparison to risking one’s life in battle. The narrator goes on to say that women worship “decorations”, referring to the medals that soldiers win in war and then wear home.
Furthermore, the second words of both the second line “wounded” and the third line “worship” begin with the same letters, causing the reader to associate them with one another. Therefore, there is a connection between being wounded and worshiped, so Sassoon could be suggesting that the women love the visibility of medals and honors so much, that they would rather their husbands or lovers be injured as long as they get a medal to bring home. This bitterness adds to the overall hostility that Sassoon displays toward women throughout the poem. You crown our distant ardours while we fight, And mourn our laurelled memories when we are killed. ” The connotations would be that although glory is often found on the battlefield, this poem reminds us of those who are behind the glorious. Without these ladies to keep their stories alive, their stories would die along with their bodies. Therefore these ladies are glorious because they keep the fight on the homefront. If things were to go bad at home then many men would turn back to take care of the affairs at home.
At the end the poet reveals what war is really like from the soldiers eyes and that it is not about what women at home make it out to be. War is death, destruction, and defeat; not heroism, adventure, or what stories portray it to be. The last three lines are truly powerful and show the ignorance of women the best. The mother is in a peaceful setting, far from the war and making socks for her son, all the while her son is dying in the battle. She, as well as other women, really don’t know the horrors of war. Concluding, war has the distinct ability to bring many poets into the forefront, where they express their thoughts through writing.
We come to realise, that the poem was written with great irony with the title being ‘’Glory of Women. ” The poem did not glory women at however did opposite, by criticizing them for only seeing the medals and the heroism in war. They didn’t realize the horrors that were going on at the same time. Sassoon acknowledges the idea of God in his poetry, and his individual ideas about how God affects his writing in various ways. I thought this was a superb poem, due to the inspiration of the poem. It shows us that an event can have such impact on people.