Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Siegfried Sassoon

As Remembrance Day approached this year, I've been reading Siegfried Sassoon's war poetry. Much of it was written while he was serving in WWI and also while he was committed to Craiglockhart Hospital in Edinburgh, for supposedly suffering from "shell shock", but more accurately because of his anti-war stance: he was willing to be sent to fight, and fight he did, but he wasn't willing to condone it.

You might have read Pat Barker's Regeneration (1991), which was based on real characters, one of whom was Sassoon. The book is stunning and I'm preparing to read it again along with its two sequels, which I haven't read. I believe it was also made into a film, but I didn't see it.

Here is a poem by Sassoon, written while he was incarcerated.


October's bellowing anger breaks and cleaves
The bronzed battalions of the stricken wood
In whose lament I hear a voice that grieves
For battle's fruitless harvest, and the feud
Of outraged men. Their lives are like the leaves
Scattered in flocks of ruin, tossed and blown
Along the westering furnace flaring red.
O martyred youth and manhood overthrown,
The burden of your wrongs is on my head.

Craiglockhart 1917

I took the following pictures in Stratford a few weeks ago. The War Memorial is very fine. It was created by renowned Canadian sculptor W. S. Allward and was completed in 1922. It depicts the theme of "Might versus Right."


Bobby said...

I was taking in your post, and I started to wonder about comparison/contrast of imagery of WW1 and Iraq...

Protege said...

Beautiful poem. This one and the one below.
And the pictures you post here speak more than thousand words...

Hilary said...

Wonderful Remembrance Day post. That last photo is stunning.

May we never forget.