Repression Of War Experience

In Repression of War Experience, Siegfried Sassoon has a dark, gloomy tone and uses personification, diction and onomatopoeia to express his attitude and feeling about World War I. The title has huge significance, because most of the poem is about the fact that people should repress their memories and thoughts about the terrible things that occurred in the war. In each stanza, Sassoon makes at least one statement about repressing the feelings or thoughts of the war.

Sassoon personifies roses and books in the second stanza. “And make the roses hang their dripping heads” because of a thunderstorm is one example of personification. The second example is his personifying of books on a bookshelf. Sassoon describes the books as being “quiet and patient” and “dressed in dim brown, and black, and white, and green/And every kind of colour.” He describes the books as being wise and all of the wisdom of the world being on those bookshelves.This personification affects the poems in one specific way. The use of personifying the roses adds to the gloomy tone, because it shows that flowers, usually generally associated with happy feelings, are going to hang their heads (die).

Another literary term in this poem is the author’s use of diction. The diction is generally mournful and sad. This diction adds to Sassoon’s gloomy tone. He uses words like ugly, horrible shapes, bloody, etc. He describes thoughts of war as “ugly thoughts” and describes ghosts as “horrible shapes in shrouds”.

Lastly, Sassoon uses onomatopoeia to describe factors and events in the war. This is most present in the last part of the poem. “Hark! Thud, thud, thud…” are the sounds of the guns. It is interesting because he describes those sounds as being quiet, “whispering guns”, which is not what you would typically think. This emphasizes the horrors of war for not only the soldiers but also the people who are surrounded by it.

This poem is about the terror that war causes, and the fact that now the thoughts should be shut out. Sassoon writes: “it’s bad to think of war”, “soldiers don’t go mad/Unless they lose control of ugly thoughts”, “stop thinking”. This makes me believe that Sassoon feels that the war and thoughts of the war will make people go crazy, and if they don’t think about these things they will be ok.


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