2OverviewThe Rear-Guard was written in 1917 while Sassoon was convalescing. It would have been about the same time he met Wilfred Owen.
3OverviewLonger and a little more difficult than the previous two poems, The Rear-Guard is a fictional account of a soldier’s experience in the ‘rear-guard’ (any soldier – the impersonal pronoun ‘he’ is used). Rear-guard troops are traditionally responsible for protecting the vulnerable positions behind the front-line.
4OverviewThrough the soldier’s experience, the true horror of war is witnessed. In this respect it is not dissimilar to Owen’s Dulce Et Decorum Est. It is a poem keen to give the reader a sense of the reality – the almost clumsy changes in meter and rhyme, various uses of alliteration, assonance and sibilance create brief but dissonant bursts like gunfire. It is a very different poem to the simple anti-establishmentarianism of They or The Hero.
5OverviewIt is a busy and confused poem – lots seems to happen. As with many of Sassoon’s poems, speech is used – how does speech differ here compared with They or The Hero?
6Subject & Theme Form and Structure Make a list under each heading. What is the poem’s form and structure?
7LanguageIn pairs, pick three key quotes. Explain very carefully why you have chosen them.
8ContextPick out at least one thing that satisfies AO4 – contextual detail.