Pg 223 The Great War
By Vernon Scannell 1922-
Presentation by Giulia Enright
Vernon Scannell, whose real name was Johnny Bain, was born in 1922 in
The family, always poor , moved frequently: Finally moving to
Buckinghamshire, where his father, who had fought in the First
World War, developed a reputation as a good portrait photographer
and the family’s severe financial difficulties began to ease. Scannell
left the local council school at the age of fourteen and got a job in an
accountant’s office. His real passions, however, were for the unlikely
combination of boxing and literature. He had been winning boxing
titles at school and had been a keen reader from a very early age,
although not properly attaching to poetry until about aged fifteen,
when he picked up a Walter de la Mare poem and was "instantly and
He received the Heinemann Award for Literature in 1961 and the
Cholmondeley Award for poetry in 1974. He was elected a Fellow of the
Royal Society of Literature in 1960 and granted a Civil List pension in
recognition of his services to literature in 1981.
He also received a special award from the Wilfred Owen Association "in
recognition of his contribution to war poetry". Scannell's best-known
book of war poetry is Walking Wounded (1965). The title poem
recollects a column of men returning from battle: "No one was suffering
from a lethal hurt, They were not magnified by noble wounds, There was
no splendour in that company."
An Over view of the poem
•Vernon scannell personifies the so called ‘great’ war that
‘invades the mind’- invades not being a good thing.
•He gives the war emotion like ‘slyly’ and ‘sensuous’.
•He concentrates on the aspects held in mind when talking
about world war 1, the realities such as flares and corpses.
•Talks about what occurred during the war, talks about
common things that happened to the soldiers such as terror,
shells, exploding and ‘sudden fans of smoke’.
‘The sky at night, is honoured with rosettes of fire’- Scanell uses
the contrast between beautiful nature such as the night sky with the
constant fire of war. Could link to ‘lie’ of the ww1 that is was good to
fight for your country because scannell uses quite romantic images
like ‘the night sky’ and ‘rosettes’ which compared to the rest of the
poem is quite ‘sugar coated’ and light in contrast to the sinister
imagery used through out such scattered corpses, rats and
exploding shells. Could also link in with the title ‘great’ war that the
sky was ‘honoured with rosettes’.
‘flares that define the corpses on the wire’-
he paints a picture of soldiers, friends and comrades scattered on the
barbed wire in no mans land and how the constant treat of enemies
‘defines’ who they are through the use of the flare. That they will be
known not by their bravery or their valour to their country or as fellow
soldiers but as simply ‘corpses on the wire’. Scannell shows no
compassion in this line, he shows that there was in fact no
compassion for the soldiers, for example the home front, who risked
their lives for their country, they were simply ‘toys’ in a ‘game’ of war.
There are no stanzas – to show the constant pain of the soldiers, there
was no release from the terror that they were witnessing because it
was a compete contrast from their lives at home, it was nothing they
could of imagined, it came as a shock which links the length of the
poem as there is no breathers no time to think while reading the
poem, which links the way the soldiers where suffering, it all came
down to natural instincts.
The poem has a constant feel of death and ‘darkness’, quite
graphic with the ‘corpses on the wire’ . There is an obvious
sinister feel unvarying in the poem through the use of ‘terror
ticks' or ‘blind murders' or ‘ sudden fans of smoke and
I thought the poem serves a purpose to open the eyes to the
realities of war. That in the end the war was not so ‘great’ to
show the irony of the so called great war. To show the
suffering of those fighting in war we won but a battle we
lost. For example The government lost respect , mothers
lost sons ,sons lost fathers and so on.
There is a change in perspective evident where he
starts in a past where he describes the ‘terror’ and
torture of soldiers then goes into the aftermath and
describes the almost funeral like feel ‘through the
misty keening of a band of Scottish pipes’.
Further works of Vernon Scannell
Nettles by Vernon
Hemos actualizado su política de privacidad para cumplir con las cambiantes normativas de privacidad internacionales y para ofrecerle información sobre las limitadas formas en las que utilizamos sus datos.
Puede leer los detalles a continuación. Al aceptar, usted acepta la política de privacidad actualizada.