Siegfried Sassoon's poem "A Working Party" is a poem purposely written to try and help us understand the serious issue of war. He successfully tells the story of an Englishman's time at war and shows us the harsh conditions in which he had to live and work.
In the first stanza we are shown the uncertainty of a man making his way along a trench. "Sliding and poising, groping with his boots," tells us how hard it is for him trying to balance, and also the repeating of the "ing" gives a feeling of time going on and on. The fact it is dark and cold makes conditions hard, but it had also been raining all day, and because the trenches weren't very well built, only a few planks of wood probably on the floor, the mud was unbearable, "splashing wretchedly where the sludge was ankle deep." When voices ordered the men to "make way," it is said the "voices would grunt." As well as showing how tired everyone was, the word "grunt" is dehumanising this man.
The poet then describes the cramped conditions, men had to "squeeze! Past, and how they found it hard to see, they were said to "peer." At one point, all the man could see distinctly was the lighted end of a cigarette, while candles and small fires "glinted through the chinks." Then it is suggested that everything darkened and the "gloom swallowed his sense of sight," suggesting he has gone blind for a short while.
The darkness is then contrasted by the flare the enemy have sent up, lighting the sky, the soldier can see things now, and he sees "nimble rats." The word "nimble" suggests the rats are moving quickly, contrasting to the men's slow movement. Then as the flare died and it became dark again, "the slow, silver moment died in dark." The double alliteration used here with the word "moment" makes the sentence long, and the long vowels emphasises this.
As the pace becomes quicker, a cold wind adds to the discomfort and rifles are shot. The rifle shots "split and crack and sing along the night," these short quick sounds contrast to the way the shells," came calmly through the drizzling air to burst with hollow bang.