Two poems - by Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen - for Remembrance

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For Remembrance, Write Out Loud would like to share two very well-known poems from the first world war, by Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen. Owen wrote: "My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity." He was killed on the Western Front in November 1918, a week before the end of the war.

Sassoon and Owen became friends after meeting at Craiglockhart hospital in Edinburgh in 1917. Sassoon was awarded the Military Cross for bringing back a wounded lance-corporal under heavy fire but later risked a court-martial after sending a protest about the war to the War Department.

 

 

THE GENERAL

by Siegfried Sassoon

 

“Good-morning, good-morning!” the General said

When we met him last week on our way to the line.

Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead,

And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.

“He's a cheery old card,” grunted Harry to Jack

As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

 

But he did for them both by his plan of attack.

 

 

 

ANTHEM FOR DOOMED YOUTH

by Wilfred Owen

 

What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?

      — Only the monstrous anger of the guns.

      Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle

Can patter out their hasty orisons.

No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells;

      Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs,—

The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells;

      And bugles calling for them from sad shires.

 

What candles may be held to speed them all?

      Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes

Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

      The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall;

Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds,

And each slow dusk a drawing-down of blinds.

 

PHOTOGRAPH: BRITISH LEGION 

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