“Base Details”

“Base Details”
Siegfried Sassoon.
2005 Question 14
Choose a poem in which humour ( e.g satire, wit or irony) plays a
significant part.
Show how the poet makes the poem humorous and discuss how
important humour is to the underlying message of the poem.
Show how the poet makes the poem humorous
Well, how does Sassoon do this?
He creates a stereotype of the major, a ridiculous caricature
at whom we laugh and for whom we have no respect.
Sassoon has created a character who shows us the very
worst excesses of those in command. Everything he writes is
exaggerated but that is not the point: the point is that the
caricature he has created makes it very clear that we should
condemn the majors for their treatment of the men under their
Which brings us to …
discuss how important humour is to the underlying message
of the poem.
What is the underlying message of the poem?
That the majors in command in the First World War were
unfit to lead and betrayed the men in their command.
Sassoon is bitter and angry about what he regarded an
unnecessary and unforgivable waste of human life. He is
condemning those he holds responsible.
In this essay, it is your job to explain how Sassoon used
his caricature of the majors to make his very serious
• Introduction
– Name of poet
– Name of poem
– Brief overview: Sassoon adopting the persona
of the major. Explain it is a satire. Explain
poet’s purpose .
– If you show you understand the above points,
you will be answering the question.
Title and Form
• Write a topic sentence saying that the form of
the poem is important in in creating the satire
and, in turn, conveys the poet’s message that
the majors should eb condemned.
• Mention ambiguity of title.
• The form of the poem.
For each of these examples you must explain
how they answer the question. How is humour
created and how does this does this make you
think about the poet’s serious message.
Callous disregard
• If I were fierce, and bald, and short of
I'd live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
And speed glum heroes up the line to
Self indulgence
• You'd see me with my puffy petulant face,
Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
Hypocrisy and self deception
• Reading the Roll of Honour. "Poor young
I'd say "I used to know his father well;
Yes, we've lost heavily in this last scrap."
Self satisfaction
• And when the war is done and youth stone
I'd toddle safely home and die - in bed.