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IMPACT: International Journal of Research in 
Humanities, Arts and Literature (IMPACT: IJRHAL) 
ISSN(E): 2321-8878; ISSN(P): 2347-4564 
Vol. 3, Issue 5, May 2015, 119-132 
© Impact Journals 

WORLD WAR ONE AND HOMOEROTICISM, WILFRED, SIEGFRIED, 
AND THE MERGER OF SADISM AND MASOCHISM 
HOSSEIN OMIDI 

Research Scholar, Department of English, Faculty of Arts, Banaras Hindu University, 

Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India 

ABSTRACT 

There is no doubt that the World War One had a huge influence on the human psyche. Being involved directly in 
the horrors and pains caused by The Great War and observed and absorbed the violence of the frontlines and the human 
cost of war, both Wilfred Edward Salter Owen (1893-1918) and Siegfried Loraine Sassoon (1886-1967) were able to report 
repetitively the fears and agonies of The First World War. Living in the trenches with other fellows and facing a huge 
pressure of witnessing the human losses, fatalities, great pains and sufferings of soldiers and their intimate relationships as 
comrades and close friends in battle zone, both of them were drastically wounded. In this paper I would like to discuss 
briefly concepts such as, masochism, moral masochism, sadism, sadomasochism, homoeroticism, and finally the kind of 
intimate relationship among comrades such as the above mentioned poets during the Great War. I would like to indicate 
that as all individuals who were involved directly in the frontlines were men who were sharing many horrendous 
experiences as well as some common goals, however, developing some kind of intimacy and affection among them is 
natural. Indeed, both Sassoon and Owen have in common a noticeable vulnerability to the dynamic of masochism, sadism, 
sadomasochism, and homoeroticism which is regarded as the interceding proxy for these predominant principles and the 
prevailing representative of the substantial Great War Poets. 

KEYWORDS: Homoeroticism, Masochism, Owen, Poetry, Sadism, Sassoon, "Strange Meeting", World War One 
INTRODUCTION 

In point of fact, war has been always a primary source of inspiration for the creation of artistic masterpieces. 
Furthermore, war offers an attention-grabbing ground for extra investigation of numerous kinds of literature. War has been 
treated as the theme of numerous diaries, novels, short stories and poems. It has drawn the attention of writers and 
researchers for a long time. All the way through history, war has had a brutalizing effect on the human condition and 
destiny, and the carnage has ostensibly become more horrific and horrendous over time. In his article "The Uncanny 
Concept: Wilfred Owen the Traumatized and Siegfried Sassoon the Shell-Shocked" Hossein Omidi perceptively observes 
that the influence of war on the "human psyche is unavoidable and this human psyche_ the outcome of the peculiarities of 
human existence_ manifests itself in human behavior (195). The large-scale devastation of human lives and property in the 
wake of the First World War is part of history and the writers have responded to that peculiar situation in accordance with 
their training and accomplishments. However, "what was going on in Europe between 1914 and 1918 was not just a story, 
it was among the darkest phases of the human history which cannot be forgotten" (OmidiAutognesis 36). Many poets have 
written about wars of which they have had no direct experience; it is the young combatants Siegfried and Wilfred who 



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have the firsthand experience and actual knowledge of what war can do, both to the body and to the psyche. 

Nevertheless, in spite of the horrific war and extremity of their bloody experience, the universal emotions and 
problems which have faced humanity throughout time have severely penetrated it. The Great War Poets Sassoon and Owen 
were psychologically wounded due to the trench experiences; and the reaction of the civilians and noncombatants back 
home towards their sufferings and pains in the war reflected in their poems. Both these poets understood the violence of 
the trenches and the human cost of war, and they recognized the inability of civilians and entertainers to comprehend it 
from the safety of home. Living in the trenches with other fellows and facing a huge pressure of witnessing the human 
losses, fatalities, great pains and sufferings of soldiers and their intimate relationships as comrades and close friends in 
battle zone, both of them were horrendously wounded. In this context, Eric Fromm in his book The Sane Society (1955) 
perceptively remarks that: 

The understanding of man's psyche must be based on the analysis of man's needs stemming from the conditions 
of his existence and the most powerful psychic forces motivating man's behaviour stem from the conditions of his 
existence, the human situation. (34) 

During the WWI, there was a strong and persuasive propaganda, which portrayed the war as an opportunity for 
young men to defend their country and to prove their heroism. But once these men arrived at the battlefields and lived in 
the trenches, they opened their eyes to the ugly truth of war, its futility, horror, dehumanization, and loses. Among these 
disillusioned men were the poets Sassoon and Owen. The psychological wounds caused in the minds and souls of the 
survivors were unfathomable. As a result of the Great War a physical and metaphysical wasteland was created across 
Europe. This despair and desolation was increasingly reflected in Sassoon and Owen's poetry. They were the most talented 
to express perceptively the shocking experiences of those traumatic years. They wrote predominantly in response to painful 
personal experiences that affected both their imagination and poetic technique. Soldier poets' such as Sassoon and Owen 
put their appalling trench experiences into poetry. They served as representatives of what could happen to all soldiers on 
daily basis through adding a strong influential voice to the public discourse. Both Sassoon and Owen are the ones that 
have presented war and its impact on human life and destiny in significant ways in their poems. They had to cope 
with the psychological wounds or physical injuries, apart from mental pressures, cruelty of the real life, emotional 
emptiness, ethical dilemmas, disillusionment, guilt, tests of courage, melancholia and mourning, masochism, 
sadism, and finally, bereavement and death itself and hence contemplate the essential meaning of life that might 
lead to existential questions in their poems. 

Regarding their relationship, it is obvious that acknowledging Siegfried's superiority to him, Wilfred admired 
Sassoon highly, writing to his mom that he was "not worthy to light [Sassoon' s] pipe" (Breen 139). The friendship 
undoubtedly had such a deep impression on him that he, in his message to Siegfried after departing the war hospital, states 
that "You have fixed my life-however short" (148). Siegfried as well had an unfathomable affection for Wilfred. Wilfred 
Owen states that he took "an instinctive liking to him" (Sassoon, 1946, 58), and remembered the time they spent together 
"with affection" (61). Later Sassoon presented him to Robert Graves and Robert Ross, Arnold Bennett and H.G Wells. 
Claiming that homoeroticism is a key factor in much of his poetry, Graves and Sitwell have indicated him as a homosexual 
(Hibberd, 2002, xxii). 



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It was Siegfried who introduced him to a cultured gay men of literature such as Ross, Sitwell, and Moncrieff. In 
this context Benjamin Wise in his review of Siegfried Sassoon: A Life, by Max Egremont perceptively observes that: 

Most biographical subjects — especially those of the British aristocracy of this period — leave little evidence of 
homosexual desire, and next to none of sexual practice. This is not true of Sassoon, who wrote quite extensively 
of his intimate relation- ships with men such as Gabriel Atkin, Prince Philipp of Hesse, and Stephen Tennant. 
Historians of homosexuality often have to interpret veiled references, poignant silences, and homoerotic metaphor 
when researching and writing about late-Victorian men. Not so with Sassoon, and this volume sheds a great deal 
of light on his intimate practices (163). 

Once again, concerning Sassoon and Owen's relationship, Andrew Motion in his work Ways of Life: On Places, 
Painters and Poets (2008) wrote "On the one hand, Sassoon's wealth, posh connections and aristocratic manner appealed 
to the snob in Owen; on the other, Sassoon's homosexuality admitted Owen to a style of living and thinking that he found 
naturally sympathetic" (218). They kept in touch through exchange of letters. In July 1918, Siegfried was gunshot in the 
head and sent back home to recuperate, they came across for the last time in August and spent what Siegfried called 
"the whole of a hot cloudless afternoon together" (Sassoon, 1946, 71). Within a month, on the way back to the French 
frontline, in July 1918, he wrote a goodbye letter to Siegfried. Their communique went on till Wilfred's death. After the 
Cease-fire, Sassoon waited to no avail for news from Owen. Several months later he was informed of Owen's death. 
The overwhelming loss saddened Sassoon seriously, and he was never "able to accept that disappearance philosophically" 
(72). 

DISCUSSIONS 

According to Merriam-Webster Dictionary, masochism is "psychosexual disorder in which an individual achieves 
erotic release by being subjected to pain or humiliation" (http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/masochism). On the 
other hand, Freud considered "moral masochism" as "unpleasure" without awareness of the "masochistic" erotic 
gratification, hence, acquired due to "unconscious" guilt sensations (19: 169). In addition, "an undeveloped or repressed 
Oedipus complex will give rise to moral masochism" (169). Based on that, moral masochism "leads to the unconscious 
need for punishment by authority figures" (ahref=http://psychologydictionary.Org/ moral-masochism/...). One example of 
"need for punishment" is desire for being physically tortured and beaten by the dad which associates moral masochism in a 
man with homosexual inclinations. To be able to have the pleasure of being punished by authority figures such as God, 
father, etc. the masochist destroys all the opportunities that unfurl to him in his life. As Segen observes, moral masochism, 
is an individual's "unconscious" desire to strive for Oral "abuse" or "castigation" from someone else by massive 
"passiveness, subservience to the demands of others, or provocation of negative reactions in others" 
( http://medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/ moral + masochism ). The word moral was used for the first time in "The 
Ego and the Id" in which Freud connected destructive healing responses to a moral cause i.e. unconscious guiltiness feeling 
and its gratification through grief and sorrow as well as penalty and torture. In his other work "The Economic Problem of 
Masochism", he adds moral masochism to feminine and erotogenic masochism in which the joining to an exterior entity 
gets incomplete. In accordance with him, "The suffering itself is what matters; whether it is decreed by someone who is 
loved or by someone who is indifferent is of no importance. It may even be caused by impersonal powers or 
circumstances; the true masochist always turns his cheek whenever he has a chance of receiving a blow" (165). As a result, 



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the unconscious sense of guilt is alleviated, which is simultaneously among the utmost profits of phobic sorrow and the 
cause of undesirable responses to rehabilitation. However, Freud noticed that the idea of a penalty and torture desire relates 
merely to mentally disordered people whose guilt feeling stays unconscious. Indeed, the masochism of the ego is caused by 
the punitive superego at its creation, presumed the veil of the introjected. In keeping with Freud, the last number in the 
sequence of powers that starts with the parentages, which stays as the parents' unconscious characteristic is "the dark 
power of Destiny" (168). Although self-chastisement by the punishing superego is intentionally observed, regarding the 
masochism of the ego it is different. In this context, Ribas observes that: 

This shift from self-punishment by the sadistic superego to masochism of the ego is fraught with destructive 
consequences. It ruins moral consciousness, which is now used to obtain internal, essentially oedipal satisfaction. 
Indeed, the subject's relationship to the parents is resexualized by an eroticization of the ego's relationship to the 
superego... The subject must suffer endless self-punishment, because all punishment is subverted to masochistic 
gratification, (http://www.encyclopedia.com) 

To be more precise, being a result of instinctive blending and sexual gratification, moral masochism arises from 
Thanatos that has not been turned away toward outside and therefore becomes perilous. Consequently, Denys Ribas asserts 
that: 

In its incestuous internal regression... masochism of the ego denies all authority and subverts the impersonal 
nature of the superego. This circumstance makes ego masochism into an instrument of transgression even more 
apt to conceal the incestuous relation to internal objects. The self-destructive aspect of ego masochism also comes 
from a relative de-objectification of external objects in their otherness. The moral masochist loses the strong 
sadomasochistic pregenital bond with the object that is found in sexual perversion. 
(http://www.encyclopedia.com) 

Even though there is an essentially "hierarchical" parent-child connection, i.e. the parents are superior and the 
child is inferior, but, as we are able to identify with both roles of our connexion outline, it is possible for us to be superior 
or inferior to others in our relations. However, the following lines make it more comprehensible: 

Depending on the balance between love and aggression from parents towards their child this above and below 
template can become increasingly distorted toward aggression and fixated there. If there is too much aggression 
the template shifts toward from other and self to above and below then to superior and inferior or better and 
worse. If there is even more aggression than that from the parent toward the child the template shifts toward 
sadistic and masochistic, (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/erwan-davon/sadomasochism-sensuality) 

According to Online Urban Dictionary, sadomasochism is "a combination of the words sadism, meaning to take 
pleasure in inflicting pain on others, and masochism, to take pleasure in pain inflicted on you. Together, the term 
sadomasochism refers to a wide spectrum of kinky sex relating to pain" (http://www...=sadomasochism...). Adrian Caesar 
claims that both Sassoon and Owen have in common a noticeable vulnerability to the dynamic of sadomasochism. 
He regards this sadomasochism as the interceding proxy for these predominant principles and the prevailing representative 
of the substantial Great War Poets. Caesar applies the word in a more comprehensive sense than the purely erotic term. For 
him, the central icon of Christian theology is the Crucifixion which is an imagery of what is claimed to signify "love". 
However, in this ideology the concept of love leads to welcoming misery and pain for the sake of satisfaction. On the 



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threshold of the Great War, this interpretation bore clear governmental consequences; since "self-sacrifice, the infliction 
and endurance of pain were necessary to the 'salvation' of the Empire" (Caesar 5). As a matter of fact, along with being 
responsible for a classified ideal of sacrifice and service, likewise, the church supported sensual values that sequentially 
supported and reinforced interventionism and imperialism. They are governed by a concept of manhood that prohibited the 
emotive and passionate life, presenting stoicism and aggression as supreme manly qualities while sensitivity and 
tenderness were considered as womanly softness. Romanticism, at the beginning of the movement, re-affirmed them by 
relocating spirituality with literature and art. One ought to feel agonized and to feel pain to be recognized as an artist. 
Accordingly, Romanticism, Imperialism as well as Christianity congregated in a willingness to expire for amour which 
itself is the energy of sadomasochism. The governmental educational institutions including churches and public schools 
were most compulsorily carrying out the political, religious and intellectual ideologies that moulded Siegfried and 
Wilfred's Christianity, Imperialism and Romanticism. However, the virtue of "manhood" and masculinity, which is 
essential for the preservation of the Kingdom, was imparted on the athletic field, as in the sports games the aptitude to 
suffer and perpetrate pain was appreciated, and trained in the schools through a bowdlerized study of the masterworks to 
put emphasis on the "beauty" of demise in combat. To be able to go beyond the love of women, boys were separated, even 
sometimes isolated, from girls and they were trained about the love between David and Jonathan. The supreme ideal, 
sponsored by the church and public schools, was the image of Christ crucified as it was epitomizing the conception of 
virtuous love. As a matter of fact, frustration, sexual suppression, and sense of guiltiness of the most malicious kind was 
the sheer reality. However, the dynamic of sadomasochism can be considered as a significant component which had a 
specific importance for Sassoon and Owen. Both of them were busy minded with questions of sexual identity, expressly 
homosexuality and homoeroticism. Paul Fussel's The Great War and Modern Memory (1975) studies profoundly 
preceding poets' application of the homoerotic convention and tries to examine its impact on Owen's poems. He writes 
that Walt Whitman's Civil War verses recommend the desirability of young soldiers. Alfred Edward Housman's poetry 
gives Wilfred his stanza and the affectionate feelings about fresh combatants. Owen's views, lyrical reaction to the World 
War, the foundations for prompters of some of his poems, his verses in comparison with other soldier poets, and his 
whirling images in the verses are deliberated meticulously in this precious book. Finally, he states romantic 
homosexuality_ homoerotic _as Owen's chief leitmotif which is glorified in his major Great War verses. In her analytical 
work "Critic's Key" in English Literature in Transition (1968), on the other hand, Gertrude Whitepronounces that the 
propensities, specifically the sense of guilt and the close connection to Jesus Christ and the anguish of the severely 
suffering soldiers described First World War poetry at large. Some critics tried to prove him as a gay, on the contrary, we 
have to understand that the idea of Wilfred's being homosexual was a disappointment as supporters of the idea have 
miscarried to substantiate anything at all convincing. Without a doubt, they did their best to hide their catastrophic botch 
with declarations like hidden or perfectionistic homosexuality, as they were not able to pronounce him homosexual. In his 
work Poetry of This Age: 1908-1958(1960), Cohen talks over the reasons of Owen's literary development, instances of his 
best verses, and causes for his supremacy over other versifiers, apart from, some influences on him such as Oscar Wilde, 
Swinburne, and A.L. Housman as homosexuals. In his essay "Owen Agonistes" (1965), he discards his previous statement 
that Christianity is the inspiring energy, and considers homosexuality as the overriding drive in Owen. Cohen hypothesises 
that Owen is an idealistic homosexual due to some personality features like egotism; extreme affection to his mother 
complemented by disaffection from his father; refutation of ladies; and conversion of fondness to his male fellows. He 
states that Wilfred is an inequality gatherer who received an obstinate deviated pleasure in being depressed. 



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Although Wilfred did not join public school, nonetheless the educational and artistic customs and traditions 
generated and maintained by such kind of governmental educational institutions were inexorably greatly powerful in the 
British society. Meanwhile, it was from public schools that the leaders, ministers and preachers, professors and educators 
were drawn. None of them were abnormal in their responses to the Great War; as Caesar asserts: "the problems of sexual 
identity, and the sadomasochism experienced by these writers were endemic to English society" (230). However, Sassoon 
and Owen were different from others for they were able to show these encounters in a haunting manner. Actually, 
Siegfried's poetry was not welcomed at public school that is why he moved towards cricket as well as hunting which lead 
to a crisis in his life as there was a struggle concerning the roles of conventional sportsperson and the unconventional 
aesthetician which controlled and dominated all his life. Although, the war gave him an opportunity to combine and utilize 
his physical and artistic abilities fully but it was more mixed up by his sexuality. Before the eruption of the Great War 
Sassoon had a friend, Carpenter, with whom he was exchanging letters. Notwithstanding, the homosexual love's growing 
goals and progressive intentions were extremely pervaded by Puritanism. According to Carpenter, homosexuals or 
"Urnings", were women in the shape of men. Carpenter admires the "cleanliness" and "dignity" of fellow friendship as 
they are less interested in sensuality than ordinary menfolk and contends that "the artist's sensibility and perception" 
(Taylor 67) is their essence. Caesar links Siegfried's participation in the war with Carpenter's theory on homosexuals. 
It puts Sassoon in a situation to be in "an all- male" atmosphere in which "sacrifice and suffering" (67) concepts allowed 
affairs among menfolk as it was depicted by Carpenter. However, Siegfried Sassoon: The Making of a War Poet — A 
Biography (1999), is Jean Moorcroft Wilson's valuable book in which the author goes through the details of Siegfried's 
childhood, covering the years from his birth till 1918. As a matter of fact, reporting that important period of his childhood, 
Wilson observes meticulously his struggle to stop hiding from being homosexual. According to Wilson, Sassoon was a 
contradictory personality. Once he was an injured soldier, fiction writer, poet, socialist, gay, spouse, and finally Catholic 
convert. In this article some subjects as Sassoon' s partaking in some clashes, his bravery as a Great War leader, and his 
homosexual connexions are deliberated. In his article "Siegfried Sassoon: Aesthete Manque," (1989), Philip Hoare, 
discusses him as a homoerotic. According to Hoare the Great War created an environment that made the "role of an 
aesthete... an ambiguous one" succeeding "the homophobic assault of Wilde's ignominious trial. Now the conservative 
reigned supreme, and poetry... had a new conventionality about it" (15). He finds Siegfried's homoeroticism positive on 
his war literature prose and poetry. In this context Hoare observes that: 

[F]or Sassoon, whose homosexuality was already determining his social habits, and was, even during the war, 
leading him more and more into the aesthete's camp, the male 'binding' process of an officer's devotion to his 
men seemed at least to bring good out of the evil. (15-6) 

Philip Hoare remarks Siegfried's gay pals to present himself as a fellow who is not comfortable with "fancy 
dress" celebrations. He states that "Sassoon had found the perceived effeminacy of this new generation a good thing, a 
positive reaction against the masculine values of the men who had allowed the war to happen" (17). 

It is inexorable that, in Sassoon and Owen's poemswhen there is a mention to corporeal torture or mental 
suffering or any kind of clue to passive patience and stoicism, the desperate powerful super-ego is overheard clearly as 
well. In some occasions there are allusions to suicide, the super-ego's anxieties of being equally loud enough to attract the 
audience. As a result of his friend's death in the war, Sassoon began a sequence of close suicidal attacks on the enemies. 
Siegfried's poetry after his beloved's murder is quiet consolatory and romantic. The conversion of sorrow and suffering 



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into art and exactly poetry determined the internal constant conflict concerning the roles of versifier and fighter; as we find 
the pain, torment, hell, death, roar of guns that destroys his life, and the ending world, etc. in his own words his poem 
"Secret Music": 

I keep such music in my brain 

No din this side of death can quell; 

Glory exulting over pain, 

And beauty, garlanded in hell. 

My dreaming spirit will not heed 

The roar of guns that would destroy 

My life that on the gloom can read 

Proud-surging melodies of joy. 

To the world's end I went, and found 

Death in his carnival of glare; 

But in my torment I was crowned, 

And music dawned above despair (War poems 62). 

Consistent with Caesar, this kind of poetry legalises the battle "through its generation of suffering" (83) to 
empower the verse to courageously record and display the pain and the suffering. Going back to England, Siegfried started 
to compose his extremely satiric poems. This helped him to release himself from the emotional frustration caused by the 
trench life, through turning his mind to the civilians and non-combatants who did not experience the combatant's trench 
life hardships. And even in verses such as "Blighters" this feeling extents near proportions, with its allusion that soldierly 
standards and military code of conduct is strongly influenced and inspired by a virtue and uprightness repudiated to anyone 
else. Indeed, his prominent protest can be perceived as an additional exercise in sadomasochism. As Sassoon was not able 
or might not be willing to express rage and wrath in war, all the anger was fixed against non-combatants everywhere in his 
poetry and even prose. From the other hand, Sassoon' s courageousness, heroism, and his will to sacrifice, was revolved 
into a moral and ethical one instead of a corporeal proposition. 

The House is crammed: tier beyond tier they grin 

And cackle at the Show, while prancing ranks 

Of harlots shrill the chorus, drunk with din; 

"We're sure the Kaiser loves the dear old Tanks!" 

I'd like to see a Tank come down the stalls, 

Lurching to rag-time tunes, or "Home, sweet Home," 

And there'd be no more jokes in Music-halls 



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To mock the riddled corpses round Bapaume (War Poems 68). 

Indeed, he is describing a situation in which the house is packed together tightly with people and food as the 
crowd joke, laugh and talk loudly showing their teeth and cackle like hens chatting loudly while dancing arrogantly and 
behave boastfully. Some prostitutes scream in a high-pitched voice while drinking they say ""We're sure the Kaiser loves 
the dear old Tanks!". In this moment the poet continues that he would "like to see a Tank come down the stalls," while 
making an unsteadily movement slides towards the music hall and then of course "there'd be no more jokes in Music-halls/ 
To mock the riddled corpses round Bapaume". Siegfriedwasdriven by sexually guiltiness, and by rage and wrath in the 
trenches, the outcome of such complications was that guiltiness, love and wrath, rage and antagonism became the 
sentiments which drove him on. However, at this moment Siegfried's determination was focused on peace, not war. 
According to what was going on in his life at those critical moments, his miscarriage was predictable, as Sassoon was 
driven by the heart afore the head, till he was healed in the War Hospital of his anti-violence complex. Based on his 
perception, Siegfried felt extremely responsible to assist his young soldiers through being with them in the trenches 
fighting and feeling the pain and suffer as they all do: "Love drove me to rebel./ Love drives me back to grope with them 
through hell;/And in their tortured eyes I stand forgiven" (War Poems 108). Furthermore, the English journalist and writer 
John Middleton Murry contends that in Siegfried Sassoon in his poem "Conscripts," shows the common men having clean, 
positive, and humble qualities, whereas "the elites" are displayed as "effeminate" (70) andincapable of dealing with the 
combat's hardiness, roughness and hazard. As we read in this famous verse that: 

Fall in, that awkward squad, and strike no more 

Attractive attitudes! Dress by the right! 

The luminous rich colours that you wore 

Have changed to hueless khaki in the night. 

Magic? What's magic got to do with you? 

There's no such thing! Blood's red, and skies are blue.' 

They gasped and sweated, marching up and down. 
I drilled them till they cursed my raucous shout. 
Love chucked his lute away and dropped his crown. 
Rhyme got sore heels and wanted to fall out. 
'Left, right! Press on your butts!' They looked at me 
Reproachful; how I longed to set them free! 

I gave them lectures on Defence, Attack; 
They fidgeted and shuffled, yawned and sighed, 



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And boggled at my questions. Joy was slack, 
And Wisdom gnawed his fingers, gloomy-eyed. 
Young Fancy — how I loved him all the while — 
Stared at his note-book with a rueful smile. 

Their training done, I shipped them all to France, 
Where most of those I'd loved too well got killed. 
Rapture and pale Enchantment and Romance, 
And many a sickly, slender lord who'd filled 
My soul long since with lutanies of sin, 
Went home, because they couldn't stand the din. 

But the kind, common ones that I despised 
(Hardly a man of them I'd count as friend), 
What stubborn-hearted virtues they disguised! 
They stood and played the hero to the end, 
Won gold and silver medals bright with bars, 

And marched resplendent home with crowns and stars (War Poems 69-70) 

Therefore, as it is noted severely by the poet, whereas the good men paid with their life for doing their duty and 
obligation, "many a sickly, slender lord who'd filled / My soul long since with lutanies of sin, / Went home, because they 
couldn't stand the din." This verses was mentioned as the one which referred to the connection between Siegfried 
Sassoon's latent homoerotic emotions and senses and his protection, assistance and affection for his soldiers and comrades. 
In 1911, corresponding with, the prominent British specialist on homoeroticism and gays, the soldier-poet confessed 
openly about accepting himself as a homoerotic: 

Until I read the "Intermediate Sex" [Carpenter's book], I knew absolutely nothing of that subject ... & what ideas 
I had about homosexuality were absolutely prejudiced, & I was in such a groove that I couldn't allow myself to be 
what I wished to be, & the intense (57) attraction I felt for my own sex was almost a subconscious thing, & my 
antipathy for women a mystery to me (Bloom 58) 

His affiliation to male fellows, homoeroticism and gay attitude is not overtly exposed in Sassoon's war verses. 
However, some scholars have debated that the powerful sympathy he had for his young soldiers was, no less than, partly as 
a result of Sassoon's redirection of the socially taboo homoerotic emotions. Murry continues that "regardless of how 
central a role his homosexuality played, Sassoon's outrage and remorse reemerges again and again in his poetry" (75). 



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People who were against the continuation of the Great War were, from one hand exposed, and from the other 
affected by the emotional, personal, and sensual insinuations of pain and misery. Recomposing his frontline experiences 
and calling it Sherston trilogy, Siegfried determined the constant clash of artiste and sportsperson. An approach of satirical 
estrangement and ironic distancing and Sassoon's application of more old-fashioned description further smoothed out the 
rigidities and tensions that inform his frontline works. While the dreads of the battlefield are emphasized, at the end of the 
story, through pain and misery Sherston turned to a better human being. The ultimate challenge which Caesar faced was 
with Owen, as he confronted with the approximately undisputed critical endorsement for his poetry. To make it more 
comprehensible, there is a deviated form of criticism which disqualifies or at least weakens Owen's poetry. Accordingly, 
antagonistic study of Wilfred appears more or less contrary to the accepted belief, assuming that Owen's war poetry 
signify for some "a humanist" reaction to the shocks and fears of modern war, as well as an exposing of "imperialist" (115) 
concepts of magnificence, nobility, and devotion to the country. Being an orthodox, puritan and a deeply religious woman, 
Wilfred's mother, overwhelmingly influenced him much more than anyone else. She was constantly stressing on the 
qualities and virtues of altruism and self-sacrifice; and this was multiplied by her son's own inventive predispositions and 
artistic inclinations, in which distress and suffering until demise was regarded virtually as a Romantic responsibility. 
Without doubt, Wilfred' searly verses are obviously full of sadomasochistic imageries. However, in Owen's primary 
poems, his own misery and suffering moved his resourcefulness and imagination as much as other people pains and 
distress did. Owen's conscription was as a result of his love for poetry and for the sake of his poetry. Certainly, for him, 
enlisting to combat and creating verse appeared to be a part of the Romantic process. Likewise Siegfried, he would 
discover in the battlefield the theme for which his traditional, educational and cultural heritage had prepared him for. 
Through studying his correspondences with his mother and others home, we learn that a martyr can be both an idealist and 
a victim for him. A martyr is the role that gave Wilfred the sense of gratification and attraction. That was the reason why 
Owen's dreadful Great War experiences are applauded and welcomed, for to suffer is not only necessary but also essential 
to military virtue, likewise to have pain is vital to daring deeds of affection and adoration, or even to literary gallantry. 
Wilfred's trench experiences deliver and validate the foundation for protest; without being an active partner in the war the 
protestor would not be illegible to protest against it. But, at the centre of his poems, there is contradiction as he was 
fighting in two opposite directions. As a pacifist, from one hand, he was fighting for reconciliation and peace, and 
simultaneously, from the other hand, as a young soldier in the frontline he was finding optimistic and positive values and 
ethics, even sacrifice, love and glory, in the fighting. Wilfred's merriment of the affection and adoration amidst comrades 
occurs in a place of damage and destruction; in his verses the origin of that love is the Great War, there is not any 
justification expressed in his poetry, as directly and indirectly, it authenticates and validates its expression. The agony, 
misery, pain of young combatants is moreover their grandeur and glory that can lead to a "greater wisdom" (Taylor 79). 
However, there can be a propensity in his verses for replacing many manners of valour and veneration for the people who 
were satirized. Based on Caesar: "[They] seek pity for its victims, but also tacitly [ask] for our admiration of the sufferings 
endured" (157). Wilfred's poetry do demonstrate an increasing consciousness of the intricacies of his status quo and we can 
refer to "Strange Meeting" and "Spring Offensive" to show intimacy among the soldiers. The summary of Owen's 
masterpiece "Spring Offensive" is: 

Some of the men halt in the shade of a hill, eating and resting on whatever they can in a careless sleep. Others, 
though, stand and stare at the blank sky and realize that they have arrived at the end of the world. They watch the 



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May breeze swirling the grass dotted with wasps and flies. Summer has infiltrated their blood like a drug but all 
they can focus on is the line of grass and the strange sparkling of the sky. They stand there and look at the field for 
a long time, and think of the valley beyond full of buttercups and clinging brambles which affixed themselves to 
their shoes and would not yield. The men stand and breathe until, as a chilling wind, they get the word at which 
point their bodies and spirits tense up for battle. It is not a bugle cry or a flag being raised or "clamorous haste" - 
just a lifting of their heads and their eyes flaring up as if they were looking at a friend with whom the love has 
been lost. The men rise up and climb over the hill, racing together across the field. Suddenly the sky is on fire 
against them and little "cups / Opened in thousand for their blood". The green fields seem infinite. Those who are 
running and leaping to avoid bullets or face the hot "fury of hell's upsurge" or fall beyond the verge may have 
been swooped up by God, some say. Those who rush into hell are "outfiending all its fiends and flames" with 
their own inhuman behaviour and their glories and shames. They crawl back out into the cool peaceful air. The 
speaker wonders why they do not speak of their comrades that "went under". (http://www.gradesaver.com/wilfred- 
owen-poems/study-guide/summary-spring-offensive) 

As a matter of fact, his masterpiece "Strange Meeting" is just one example in which we learn that in the middle of 
trenches and tunnels, everlasting humanity is victorious upon the stupidity and absurdity of the war which invents enemies 
and mislead them to forget equality, justice and brotherhood. This outstanding poem is among the most beautiful and most 
meaningful ones about the confrontation of the so-called foes in a dream like setting. The yesterday enemies, encounter 
face to face and stare at each other without fear and enmity. In fact there was always a kind of love and friendship between 
both men in this poem which shows itself in a way that the old so-called enmity and hatred is not there anymore as it was 
not there even before. It shows its real essence which is love, affection and a friendly conversation in which they explain 
elegantly what wounds can make to the body and the psyche. In "Strange meeting" masochism is mingled with sadism, 
mental trauma, distress, fears, hopelessness, and somehow a great opportunity for a deep awakening of consciousness. 
Indeed the ending homoerotic words, "Let us sleep now" (Breen 66), are the most beautiful compassionate words of 
wisdom pronounced with calm and quiet vibe. In addition, the fact that these pains and miseries are not related to Wilfred 
the Soldier but also Wilfred the Poet is very important. It is not that justifiable to regard him as a pacifist since he professed 
too much significance in the agony, pain and misery that hostility and ferocity created in the First World War. In "Digging 
In: An Interpretation of Wilfred Owen's 'Strange Meeting"(1961), Elliott B. Gose Jr.reasons that "strange meeting" talks 
about the speaker's meeting with his original "self from which the narrator has been estranged because of the First World 
War. For him, "Strange Meeting" echoes more important goal of re-familiarizing his audiences the sentiment that could 
end the process of dehumanization of brutal modern war, which Wilfred Owen calls "pity" (418).Even with their 
purportedly pacifistic emotions and anti-war spirit, several of his verses reflects feelings that enthuse fresh and innocent 
audiences, and openly are in favour of the idea of the continuation of the battle through giving positive comforts grounded 
on the perception that suffering is worthy. Considering all the facts, Sassoon and Owen's poetry is triggered by the energy 
of sadomasochism. It was unavoidable that both of them had better opportunity to seek and enjoy comfort in the 
blossoming of man love in battle when it was prohibited in peacetime; when we do not find something in peace we try to 
find it in war. Surprisingly, Caesar obstructs this dispute, clarifying that there was no way for Wilfred except to participate 
in the battle to be able to discover peace and tranquillity in love. He thinks that the soldier poet's "compassionate 
denunciation" enthuses readers towards a contented and contending image of the Great War in which '"human values" are 
confirmed "by the poems which mediate the unspeakable" (233). Analysing the account of the twentieth century after the 

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Great War, definitely, confirms Wilfred's prediction and his comprehension of life reflected in "Strange Meeting" that pain 
and suffering simply brings about more suffering. And Repetition of the history and the past, in general, is humanity's 
irresistible destiny; no one can escape it, we are all doomed to repeat the past. 

CONCLUSIONS 

As the soldier poets Wilfred and Siegfried were involved directly in the frontlines, they had the direct experience 
and actual knowledge of what war could do, both to the body and to the psyche. Form the other hand, this human psyche 
which is the outcome of the uniqueness of mankind's existence shows itself in his/her manners. There is no doubt that the 
World War One had a huge influence on the human psyche. Being involved directly in the horrors and pains caused by the 
Great War and observed and absorbed the violence of the frontlines and the human cost of war, both Wilfred and Siegfried 
were able to report repetitively the fears and agonies of The First World War. Facing a huge pressure of witnessing the 
human losses, fatalities, great pains and sufferings of soldiers and their intimate relationships as comrades and close friends 
in battle zone, both of them were drastically wounded. There is no doubt that the World War One had a huge influence on 
the human psyche. In this paper I examined briefly concepts such as, masochism, moral masochism, sadism, 
sadomasochism, homoeroticism, and finally the kind of intimate relationship among comrades such as the above 
mentioned poets during the Great War. Indeed, both Sassoon and Owen have in common a noticeable vulnerability to the 
dynamic of masochism, sadism, sadomasochism, and homoeroticism which is regarded as the interceding proxy for these 
predominant principles and the prevailing representative of the substantial Great War Poets. I would like to indicate that as 
all individuals who were involved directly in the frontlines were men who were sharing many horrendous experiences as 
well as some common goals, however, developing some kind of intimacy and affection among them is natural.However, 
poems such as "Blighters" and "Conscripts" by Sassoon and "Strange Meeting" and "Spring Offensive" by Owen were 
examined in this article to illustrate my argument regarding the he above mentioned poets. 

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