“knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through the sludge,” presents an image of tormented men, marching through thick mud, legs barely able to hold themselves up and lungs on the brink giving up. “Knock-kneed” presents an image of unstable tired legs typically said about an injured or disabled people, meaning the author wanted us to get the image of the soldiers being on the verge of unable to walk. “coughing like hags” coughing presents an image of unhealthy lungs, hags are typically old witches, so this line creates an image of men coughing like they have the lungs of an unhealthy old woman. The line “we cursed through the sludge,” shows that the group of men all cursed as the marched their tired legs through the sludge. Together this line gives us the image of a group of tired, unhealthy soldiers cursing as they marched through the mud.
“All went lame: all blind;” Gives an image that no one who went to war was left unscarred. “All went lame” refers to everyone going disabled or permanently affected by the war. “All went blind” refers to no one having an idea of what was going on or why anymore in this war.
“If in some smothering dreams, you too could pace” Reality
“Gas! GAS! Quick, boys!” The specific choice to use the word boys means a lot in this. It refers to the soldiers as boys, young clueless kids who were still learning but in this case forced out to fight a war for someone else.
The repetitive use of the word all is an important part of this text. It portrays to the audience that everyone was affected no matter what side you were on or why and no matter what your role was you were affected by the war.
“Desperate glory” – an oxymoron. Desperate means to have great desire for something, glory means to be victorious above the rest, winning. These two words contradict each other giving the effect of war being filled with desperate attempts to be to gain glory. This contradicts each other because glory is seen as dreamlike compared to being desperate which is needing something, so it creates an interesting effect of dreams vs reality.
If in some Smothering dreams, you too could pace – personification. To smother is to kill by suffocating. Smothering dreams gives us the idea that his reality is like a dream that was smothering him. The author uses personification to portray the idea that the war was so inhuman and unbelievable yet so real feeling that it felt as if his reality was being suffocated by a nightmare.
“All went lame; all blind;”- Statement. The language technique statement is used to say that everyone was affected by the war without argument. It is used to make the readers believe in the what the writer’s idea was without a doubt.