They by Siegfried Sassoon is a war poem that challenges the reader to think about the role of faith and God in the midst of tragedy. The poem asks whether it is still possible to believe in a just and good God when so much suffering exists in the world.
They highlights the idea that there can be no simple answers to questions of faith, and that ultimately it is up to each individual to decide what they believe. While They does not offer any easy answers, it invites readers to consider the complex relationship between faith and suffering, and to reflect on their own beliefs.
There are two stanzas in the poem, each with a rhyme scheme of ababcc dedeff. The poem’s tone seems to be somewhat sarcastic and mocking. The second line of the poem is a direct conversation between a Bishop and boys (soldiers), as seen by the use of double parentheses. I believe that the youngsters were soldiers because they are acquainted with one another by their names.
It is also clear that the soldiers are not in a good place, as Sassoon uses words such as ‘fear’ and ‘dread’. He also writes about their ‘longing’ for home. The Bishop is trying to tell the boys that they should have faith and believe in God, as he will protect them. Even though the Bishop is trying to be reassuring, Sassoon makes it clear that the boys do not share the same faith.
This can be seen in lines such as ‘We don’t want any more of your praying’ and ‘we know what we’re here for’. It seems like the boys have given up on God, and see no point in praying anymore. They know that they are going to die, and believe that there is no hope for them.
The poem They by Siegfried Sassoon is a conversation between a Bishop and soldiers. The Bishop is trying to tell the boys that they should have faith in God, but the boys do not seem to share the same faith. The boys appear to be sarcastic and mocking towards the Bishop.
The Bishop informs the boys that the soldiers will not be the same when they return from war, and lists his reasons why in lines 1-6. The boys express their disagreement with the Bishop’s sentiments in lines 7-11. They maintain that while the soldiers will not be the same, it won’t be for any of reasons listed by the Bishop.
They feel that what they will have learnt and experienced will be far greater than anything the Bishop could teach them.
In They, Siegfried Sassoon employs the use of contrast to create a greater understanding of the gulf between the boys’ experience and the Bishop’s lack thereof. In line 1-6, the Bishop states that when the soldiers return from war, they will not be the same again. He lists the reasons for this change as being because they will have seen death, been wounded, and suffered mentally and emotionally.
The boys’ response to this can be seen in line 7-11. The boys are of the opinion that yes they will not be the same again, but not for the reason the Bishop has listed. They feel that what they will have learnt and experienced will be far greater than anything the Bishop could teach them.
The Bishop’s lack of understanding is further shown when he states in line 12-14 that the boys will be ‘lost’. The boys again disagree with him, saying that they will not be lost, but instead will have found themselves. This disagreement highlights the difference in opinion between the Bishop and the boys; the Bishop sees the war as a negative experience which will result in the boys being changed for the worse, whereas the boys see it as a positive experience which will result in them becoming better people.
The final two lines of the poem see the Bishop making one last attempt to dissuade the boys from going to war. He states that they will be risking their lives and their souls, but the boys are not deterred. They believe that what they are doing is right, and they have faith that God is on their side.
This poem highlights the gulf between those who have experienced war and those who have not. It shows how those who have not experienced war can never truly understand what it is like, and how it changes those who go through it. It also promotes the idea that sometimes, going through tough experiences can make you a better person.
The poem is a dialogue between the bishop and soldiers, which is taking place in the present tense as can be seen in lines 1 (“tell us”) and 7 (“boys reply”), with “told us” and “replied,” respectively. I’ve noticed that the last line isn’t in present tense, but rather past tense, as it says “Bishop said,” emphasizing God’s decision that these soldiers will not be able to see or walk.
In They, Siegfried Sassoon is not making a stand on whether God exists or not, but instead he is exploring the idea that people put their faith in different things and for different reasons. The poem starts with the Bishop asking the soldiers a question “And who are you?” (line 1), this could be interpreted in a number of ways but I think that Sassoon is trying to ask us why these men have come to fight, what has driven them to enlist.
In the second stanza, we see the soldiers reply and they tell the Bishop that they are “the young men” (line 4) and that they have come to fight because it is their “duty” (line 5). The word duty is significant as it shows that these men are not fighting for glory or for money, but instead they are fighting because they believe it is the right thing to do.
The third stanza is where we see the first hint of doubt from Sassoon, he writes that the Bishop “smiled” (line 9) when the soldiers said they were fighting for their duty. The word smiled could be interpreted in a number of ways but I think it is safe to say that the Bishop was not really amused by what the soldiers said, and instead he saw through their brave façade.
In the fourth stanza, we see the Bishop start to question the soldiers more directly, he asks them why they are fighting and he tells them that they are “missing” (line 14) something. The word missing is significant as it suggests that the Bishop believes that these men are not fighting for the right reasons, and that they are not seeing the whole picture.
The fifth stanza is where we see the soldiers start to lose their patience with the Bishop, they tell him that they are fighting because “they” (line 17) told them to. The word they is significant as it suggests that the soldiers are not fighting for themselves or for their country, but instead they are fighting because someone else has told them to. This could be interpreted in a number of ways but I think it is safe to say that Sassoon is suggesting that the soldiers are not thinking for themselves, and that they are blindly following orders.