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English Literature

Ted Hughes: Bayonet Charge

Subject matter

Bayonet Charge is perhaps unusual for a Ted Hughes poem in that it focuses on a nameless soldier in the First World War (1914-18).

It describes the experience of 'going over-the-top'. This was when soldiers hiding in trenches were ordered to 'fix bayonets' (attach the long knives to the end of their rifles) and climb out of the trenches to charge an enemy position twenty or thirty metres away. The aim was to capture the enemy trench. The poem describes how this process transforms a solider from a living thinking person into a dangerous weapon of war.

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