A Comparison between Base Details and Leaving for the Front

The two poems, “Base Details” by Siegfried Sassoon and “Leaving for the Front” by Alfred Lichtenstein, are two great pieces of literature written in the First World War. However the two, are fairly contrasting works of poetry, since Base Details is a very satirical poem for the reason that it is ridicules the Majors in the First World War and because Lichtenstein’s poem describes the unfeigned feelings of a soldier going to the war. The features that are the most contrasting are the content of the poems and the uses of imagery in these pieces.

Nevertheless the poems also have common attributes like their rhythms. Sassoon’s poem is a parody of highly ranked officers, majors and generals in the army. It creates a sardonic picture of how comfortable they lives were and how they were responsible for killing young soldiers by sending them to the front, but they themselves were never in danger as they did not have to fight. It depicts the majors as not caring about the lives of single soldiers. The only life they worried about was their own because they wanted to be able to go home safely and to die in bed.

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This should symbolise how worthless a soldier’s life was. “Leaving for the Front” on the other hand talks about a young soldier departing from home to fight for his country. The soldier tries to make the farewell less hurtful for his girl and his mother by saying that he is “glad to leave” which is rather ironical because he knows that he is going to die. The meaning that this poem should imply is how likely it is for you to die in this war and how there was not much heroism.

This suggests that the meanings of the two pieces are somewhat similar because Alfred Lichtenstein seems to know how valueless his own life is in this war by saying, “A nice mass-grave is all that I shall get”, where the mass-grave creates the impression of that he is nothing special and only one of the many victims. “Base Details” also suggests that one life is nothing too important for a major. Both pieces of poetry use forms of irony, thus in “Base Details” it is a satirical one.

Another point which both have in common is that Lichtenstein and the highly ranked soldiers know where and how they are probably going to die. Thus, the ways in which the people will die are very different. In “Leaving for the Front” the soldier does not have any wrong thoughts about the war and is aware that he is going to fall during the war, opposing to this are the majors who know that they will calmly die in bed since they do not get themselves into danger. The ways in which the poems are told are contrasting as well.

In “Leaving for the Front” Lichtenstein portrays his own situation as a normal soldier who was sent to the front but Sassoon talks in his poem out of the perspective of one of the majors,” I’d say-‘I used to know his father well;'”. Therefore Sassoon has not actually experienced all the things he is talking about but is only assuming some parts by describing stereotypical behaviour of majors he has heard about. The metaphors, the similes and the imagery in general are dissimilar since they have to be used and altered in order to fit with the content of the poems.

Therefore, one can say that both poems have in common that they use metaphors and similes to emphasize the meaning. Lichtenstein’s poem uses imagery standing for his upcoming death e. g. “We’re marching off in company with death” and “Now look how the sun’s begun to set”. On the contrary Sassoon uses metaphors which emphasis how valueless these soldiers are i. e. “‘Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap. ‘” The “scrap”, which is used, shows how a large battle is put down to a small fight and so the soldiers that fell in this battle get less attention and have a smaller importance.

However, there is also a quote in “Leaving for the Front” which would fit to the one just mentioned because it also says how unimportant one soldier is (it has been quoted before and is where Lichtenstein says that a mass-grave is all that he will get). A great difference is also that “Base Details” uses numerous adjectives to give the reader an image of the majors and to engage him, however “Leaving for the Front” only uses adjectives very rarely and usually in an ironic manner (“nice mass-grave”). Sassoon’s work needs more adjectives because the readers want a clear picture of the high ranked soldiers so the satire could amuse them.

Lichtenstein’s poem does not need this because it is another type of poem and because the content secures the readers attention with out having a lot of detail. Even though “Base Details” is more descriptive it does not have a higher use of metaphors than “Leaving for the Front”. The two poems are structured in a similar way and use a common rhythmic pattern. Both have teen lines with each 10 syllables and they each have the same rhythm which is the iambic pentameter. This rhythm gives both pieces a happy feeling since the second syllable is always the stressed one.

However, the two have this rhythm for a different purpose, “Base details” has it because it is satirical and “Leaving for the Front” uses it because Lichtenstein wants to create the impression for his family that he is not sad to leave and this is then also shown in the rhythm of poem but the happiness of the rhythm is then dampened by the content again. Both use rhyme but they differ in the type they use. Sassoon used ABAB and Lichtenstein utilized AABB. Both pieces do not use any other devices of sounds in a poem like onomatopoeia, alliterations or assonances.

The readers can enjoy these works of poetry greatly. Base Details” is very gripping through its fantastic satirical descriptions of the majors which are amusing, but even though that the poem is very entertaining it also arouses the reader’s attention and provokes him to think about how worthless the lives of single soldiers were. “Leaving for the Front” on the other hand talks about something totally different but it secures the reader’s empathy for the soldier who has to leave his family as well. One feels sorry for the soldier because he is going to die very soon. Both poems are able show how soldiers of different ranks felt about this war but both do this in unique and different ways.