Spring Offensive

Worksheet (Analysis of Language, Structure and Form)

  1. What is the implication of the “stark blank sky” (line 5).
  2. Why did the poet use the word ‘fed’(line 2)?
  3. Note repetition of ‘ease’ (‘stand at ease’ is a military term too)
  4. ‘may breeze, murmurous’ Comment on the effect of the sound of these words.
  5. Comment on “the summer oozed into their veins like an injected drug for their bodies’ pains” (line 9).
  6. ‘Fearfully flashed the sky’s mysterious glass’ (line 12).  Why ‘glass’?
  7. What is the significance of brambles attempting to restrain them?(line 16)
  8. Consider the significance of ‘clutched and clung’ (line 17)
  9. What is the author’s intended effect of “like sorrowing arms” (line 17)?
  10. Why might they “they breathe like trees unstirred”(line 18)?
  11. Comment on the effect and significance of: ‘The green slope/chasmed’ (line 31)
  12. What is the effect of the repetition of “no”?
  13. Their feet came to ‘the end of the world’ (line 6).  Where else in the poem do you get a sense of finality?
  14. Comment on the description of hell in the last verse.
  15. Why do the soldiers not talk of their comrades ‘that went under’ (line 46)?
  16. Find examples of where the beauty of spring is contrasted with the horror and ugliness of war.
  17. Consider and discuss the use of heaven and hell, sky and earth. What other uses of contrast can you find?
  18. Look at two visual and two auditory images – what is the effect of each?
  19. How does the poet How does the poet use movement?
  20. One commentator has written that the poem has a ‘broken rhythm, a 10-syllable line with variations and a mixed metre together with irregular rhymes interspersed with couplets.’   What might be the purposes of such a poetic style?  Refer to specific examples and consider how meaning has been created.
  21. It is said by some that some of the imagery is associated with the rite of communion and religion.  Do you find any evidence for this?  If so, what is its significance?
  22. In what way may the effect of ‘no alarms / of bugles, no high flags, no clamorous haste’ be ironic (21)?
  23. What other ironies can you find?

You might find it interesting to look at Ad’s Blog, which is very helpful on this poem e.g. he notes the pun on the word ‘offensive’.


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