By: Bryan Ricardo Marini Quintana
Siegfried Sassoon’s “They” is a realistic poem that questions The Great War’s righteous cause, contemplating the scars veterans will bear for the rest of their lives. The poem begins with a soldier saying: “The Bishop tells us: ‘When the boys come back / They will not be the same; for they’ll have fought / In a just cause: they lead the last attack” (Sassoon). Here, the Bishop gives a rousing speech to stir the men about why they should be proud of their service to defend the homeland. Then, he finishes with words of praise because “They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.” (Sassoon). However, this comment doesn’t express sorrow or pity for these lost souls who’ve been forced to march beyond the refuge of a barbed wire trench to face their doom on a barren wasteland. Instead, the Bishop absurdly hails these brutal acts of violence as glorious deeds of bravery and honor. All that matters to him is that these soldiers have gained heroic renown on the battlefield, disregarding the physical and psychological wounds they’ve obtained in No Man’s Land.
Afterward, the men respond furiously: “We’re none of us the same!”… / ‘For George lost both his legs; and Bill’s stone blind; / Poor Jim’s shot through the lungs and like to die; / And Bert’s gone syphilitic…” (Sassoon). By giving a voice to these stories, the poet records the horrific experiences of soldiers who’ve endured unceasing winters in the muddy ditches of the western front. Primarily, Siegfried Sassoon expresses his frustrations in a somber poem that ponders these men’s grim future when they return home to the post-war world. While meadows will heal and towns rebuild, these soldiers will never be the same again, unable to mend their injuries. Continuing, the men utter: “…you’ll not find / A chap who’s served that hasn’t found some change.” (Sassoon). This is the outcry of haunted soldiers who’ve lost a part of themselves for the righteous cause of The Great War. Overall, Siegfried Sassoon reveals that these fearless knights are ordinary men whose lives have become maimed by the torment they’ve stomached on the western front, with their pleas being snubbed by the Bishop who answers: “…‘The ways of God are strange!” (Sassoon).
Sassoon, Siegfried. “They.” 1917. George Mason University, https://mason.gmu.edu/~rnanian/Sassoon-They.html
By: Bryan Ricardo Marini Quintana
Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier” is an idealistic poem that serves as an ode to England, remembering why he’s fighting for his country in The Great War. This romantic tone of the sonnet unveils a soldier who misses home, reminiscing on the beauty of his nation by saying: “If I should die, think only this of me: / That there’s some corner of a foreign field / That is for ever England…” (Brooke). Through this verse, Rupert Brooke finds meaning in serving on the front as a bastion of civilization that halts the barbarian aggressor ravaging Europe from reaching his country. When the poet confronts the certainty of death, he doesn’t cowl in fear of facing the shadow that claims the souls of men. Instead, Rupert Brooke is armed with valor to meet his fate, perceiving The Great War as a just cause worth sacrificing his life to defend England’s freedom and well-being.
Further on, the poet describes that “…There shall be / In that rich earth a richer dust concealed; / A dust whom England bore, shaped, made aware, / Gave, once, her flowers to love, her ways to roam;” (Brooke). With this verse, Rupert Brooke portrays his homeland as a civilizing force that nurtured him to become knowledgeable and wise. Thereafter, he evokes an ailing memory of the countryside by reciting: “A body of England’s, breathing English air, / Washed by the rivers, blest by suns of home.” (Brooke). Palpably, the soldier depicts a lovely landscape to retain the smell, touch, and sight of home. Hence, the sonnet is a celebration of England’s magnificence, that’s been left unscathed by the fumes of The Great War shrouding Europe, with Rupert Brooke recollecting the splendor of his homeland to find purpose in the conflict, longing to return and be “In hearts at peace, under an English heaven.” (Brooke).
Brooke, Rupert. “The Soldier.” 1915. Poetry Foundation, https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poems/13076/the-soldier
By: Bryan Ricardo Marini Quintana
In a wardrobe, Mrs. Siddons masks her identity
She wears outlandish attires
To change into characters and escape her reality
She parades ludicrous prosthetics
To face the mirror and rejoice in her fantasy
In a vain struggle to find meaning
Mrs. Siddons beholds her reflection
Trying to fill the void by impersonating
Mrs. Siddons contends with her creation
When she’s stripped from a fruitful vocabulary
Mrs. Siddons doesn’t reason her existence
When she’s discarded from a picturesque scenery
Mrs. Siddons doesn’t know her performance
When she’s heaved from a crystalline lens
Mrs. Siddons doesn’t fathom her expressions
Offstage, she subsists the routines of a colorless reality
Yearning to don her masquerading veneer
Onstage, she performs the adventures of a colorful character
Returning to dwell in her delusional fantasy
In a game of pretending through limitless costumes
She feigns to wield skill
In a game of entertaining with devious illusions
She weaves an appealing spell
In a game of transforming into sagacious characters
She becomes a pretty doll
Consuming the potion
The performer arrogantly believes she’s
Swallowing the incantation
The masses absurdly believe she’s
Creative as a writer and composer
Erudite as a mythologist and anthropologist
Imaginative as a painter and sculptor
Articulate as a philologist and linguist
Wise as a historiographer and philosopher
When she’s dressed, Mrs. Siddons pretends to be
Fearing to lose her disguises
When she’s unveiled, Mrs. Siddons desires to be
Acting to mimic her characters
Without her attire, Mrs. Siddons reveals she’s unconscious
Donning a persona to live a fantasy
With her attire, Mrs. Siddons feigns she’s conscious
Donning a persona to have an identity
Living within a predictable theater
Mrs. Siddons’ world revolves around her
Stepping into an unpredictable unknown
Mrs. Siddons’ world is overthrown
Realizing that without characters she’s bereft of identity
Mrs. Siddons returns to her fantasy
In a crowd, Mrs. Siddons appears charmingly
To feign her performance of being skilled
In a crowd, Mrs. Siddons speaks eloquently
To sermon her autocratic vision of the world
Onstage, the masses erect a pedestal for Mrs. Siddons
Praising her persona as a beautiful deity
Offstage, the performer hides in marvelous dresses
Dragging the world into her delusional fantasy
In a theater, the masses worship Mrs. Siddons
Falling into perdition to venerate a Golden Calf devoid of identity
By: Bryan Ricardo Marini Quintana
The Conflicting Magical And Material Worlds
After being devoured by the Kraken, Jack Sparrow is imprisoned in a wasteland alongside the Black Pearl, with William and Elizabeth enlisting the help of Captain Barbossa to rescue him. Bringing back the notorious pirate and his ship turns the tide for the magical world in a struggle to oppose the East India Trading Company’s material world. After reaching an island, Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa find the Kraken’s carcass, gazing at this mythological being who was once king of the seas. They reminisce about the old fantastical world, understanding that the Age of Piracy has ended with the new civilized world peddling the Age of Industrialization. In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007), Captain Barbossa says: “The world used to be a bigger place.” Jack Sparrow replies in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (2007): “The world is still the same, there’s just less in it.” These characters embrace their doom through this exchange by accepting that Lord Cutler Beckett has completed the world map and imposed totalitarian rule over the seven seas. Consequently, the Black Pearl is confined to a world devoid of anything new to discover, and the crew loses the freedom to be masters of their destiny. Therefore, Jack Sparrow and Captain Barbossa forsake their prideful rivalry to achieve a victory that will guarantee their survival in the new material world as the old magical world fades away.
In the final confrontation, the Black Pearl releases the goddess Calypso, who reclaims her supremacy as queen of the seas in the form of a tempest that the East India Trading Company cannot quell. To counter this unpredictable force of nature, Lord Cutler Beckett unleashes Davy Jones, with the world’s fate mediating between order and chaos being decided by pirates. However, the tide is turned when William Turner stabs the heart of Davy Jones, sacrificing himself by taking over as captain of the Flying Dutchman. Blinded by his arrogance, Lord Cutler Beckett sails with the Endeavor to finish the Black Pearl. Nevertheless, the feared commander is caught in a trap between Jack Sparrow’s Black Pearl that draws him in and William Turner’s Flying Dutchman that emerges to surround his ship. At this moment, Lord Cutler Beckett’s vision of ruling the material world fails to materialize, facing two free pirates who are masters of their destiny. For the first time, the feared commander is outside his cabin, incapable of scheming a plan that can save him. A sense of powerlessness freezes him, as Lord Cutler Beckett cannot comprehend how his flawless design for the world collapsed, failing to give orders whilst his ship is shelled by cannon fire. Desperately, the crew abandons their stations to flee from the Endeavor, but the feared commander drowns with his flawed plans of tyrannical rule over the seven seas.
Although this is a victory for the magical world, the Black Pearl is still confined to the material world, with the East India Trading Company dominating the seven seas. Consequently, Great Britain is defeated by losing Lord Cutler Beckett aboard the Endeavor. However, the feared commander proves to be a chess piece of the East India Trading Company that’s quickly replaceable by another tyrant to hold governance over the seven seas, protecting their imperial interests. Jack Sparrow’s triumph is surviving the death of his old fantastical realm and adapting to the new civilized realm. Sadly, the infamous pirate loses his beloved Black Pearl, but this doesn’t stop him from seeking an adventure in the unknown. Finally, Jack Sparrow boards a humble boat and uses his cherished compass to guide him across the seven seas, tasting freedom as the master of his destiny.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, Walt Disney Pictures, 2007.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, Walt Disney Pictures, 2006.
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
Directed by Gore Verbinski, Walt Disney Pictures, 2003.