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The War Poems

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,542 Ratings  ·  55 Reviews
Sassoon, who lived through World War One and who died in 1967, was, as the introduction to this book tells us, irritated in his later years at always being thought of as a "war poet". Understandable perhaps from the point of view of the poet: readers on the other hand might wish to demur. The poems gathered here and chronologically ordered, thereby tracing the course of th ...more
Paperback, 154 pages
Published October 4th 1999 (first published January 1st 1911)
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All Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueRegeneration by Pat BarkerGoodbye to All That by Robert GravesA Farewell to Arms by Ernest HemingwayBirdsong by Sebastian Faulks
World War One Literature
14th out of 159 books — 299 voters
The Trigger by Tim ButcherAll Quiet on the Western Front by Erich Maria RemarqueThe Guns of August by Barbara W. TuchmanBirdsong by Sebastian FaulksA Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway
The Great War
31st out of 373 books — 483 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 2,715)
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Sep 03, 2009 Brad rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This letter, "A Soldier's Declaration," explains why Siegfried Sassoon is a great poet of WWI, and it contains all of why I love him. Enjoy.

I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defense and liberation, has now become a war of aggress
Sassoon knew both Graves and Owen. These poems written during, or after, the Great War are at once dark, forbidding, cynical, and beautiful. Some poems are addressed to men Sassoon knew, such as Graves; while others address those who stay at home - from women, to the old men, to the boycotts. Some are addressed to the nameless dead. If you are interested in the Great War, you should add this to your reading list.
Oct 10, 2015 Trish rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I almost forgot about this book. Until a discussion here made me remind my favourite poem from this collection (Suicide In the Trenches). So today I spent about an hour (!) trying to find the book in one of the boxes underneath my bed (yes, I have to keep boxes full of books there). After finally finding it, I thought I'd read one or two poems but I couldn't stop.

Siegfried Sassoon lived from 1886 until 1967 which means he personally witnessed both World Wars. After some pretty casual years livin
Apr 02, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Bettie
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.




Apr 29, 2016 Glady rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sassoon's poetry has long been a favorite of mine. He ably captures the horrific experiences of a WWI soldier. "Dreamers" was a new poem for me; I kept returning to this brief glimpse of soldiers lined up, ready to battle. These soldiers aren't noble fighting machines; they are just ordinary guys dreaming of the mundane simplicities of life.

Soldiers are citizens of death's gray land,
Drawing no dividend from time's tomorrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealous
Isca Silurum
Feb 11, 2009 Isca Silurum rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
The human condition.
Feb 24, 2014 Anitra rated it it was amazing
Sassoon is a surgeon of a poet. He can cut out your heart in ten lines. He should have lived in the twitter era. If anyone could make 140 characters sting or sing it would be Sassoon.

He sucks you in with banality (the happy young soldier, the troops marching past a general) and then smacks you with a harsh reality (happy soldier commits suicide, the general gets these jovial troops slaughtered). Or he does the opposite when he describes a heart broken man mourning his brother's loss and then end
Jan 27, 2013 Paola rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, wwi, 2013
Loved it - Sassoon is surgical in the precision with which he characterises human feelings and emotions, the futility of the war, its blind cruelty, and how in the end soldiers keep fighting because of the loyalty they feel to their companions also thrown in what is perceived quite clearly as a senseless butchery.

There are so many verses to quote, so many striking poems that the only thing which makes sense is to read them all - however I found the one below incredibly prescient, and think it sh
Courtney Johnston
Apr 24, 2011 Courtney Johnston rated it liked it
Shelves: borrowed, poetry
I saved this up specially for Anzac Day, as a the-personal-is-political gesture. I mean no disrespect to those who have fought in wars for the New Zealand government (I hesitate to say 'for New Zealand' here) and to those who lost friends and family to the war, but there's a maudlin sentimentality to the way we approach the two Word Wars in this country that makes my gut churn.

I think this is only going to get worse as we approach the 100th anniversary of the First World War. If I was in charge
Jan 27, 2016 Cocaine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Siegfried Sassoon was so much more than the work he is best remembered for even though that work, this collection of near genius poetry, is the sort most aspiring poets would love to claim as theirs.
The Great War, the war to end all wars, was one of the most singularly stupid wars my country ever fought. It was a war that destroyed an empire so perhaps that is a positive but it also laid waste to a nations prosperity but worse than that a generation of men: English, Welsh, Scott 19s, Irish, Fre
Dec 15, 2014 Stosch rated it it was amazing
Shelves: ww1-first-hand, ww1
very good
Jul 01, 2014 Dean rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
I am always reticent to write about poetry as technical knowledge of the craft never found its way into my education. So I will stick to the simple understanding of this collection. The work represents a cross section of Sassoon's stark and vivid poems from the beginning of the First World War to its end.

The first collection of poems detail the characters and terrible sights he saw as an officer in Belgium and France. The soldiers after awhile transcend class and rank and come across simply as m
Apr 21, 2014 Pixelina rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, z2014-read
This was in insight into a world so foreign to me and that was the reason I read it all. I am just not a poetry person but found it insteresting in regards to the subject.
Christopher Athey
Aware of the courage and strength of character of Siegfried Sassoon, after reading Pat Barker's excellent Regeneration, I wanted to undertake a more comprehensive reading of his work. Several of his poems stood out as raw and emotional depictions of the horror of the war, yet I felt a need to gather a more complete picture of Sassoon. Such an influential writer I wanted to know more and, hopefully, hear the voices of those who went to war.

Supplementing poetry that I read 5 or 6 years ago on the
Paul Taylor
Aug 05, 2014 Paul Taylor rated it it was amazing
I don't know how he does it, we are worlds apart in just about every respect but his poetry (and his prose) speaks to me like few others. Auden is often described as a lazy poet, famed for his first lines. Sassoon is the opposite, he writes highly accessible verse and then concludes with a two line stanza that eviscerates the reader. His time spent in Craiglockhart gave us not just an outpouring of poetry from him but also helped Wilfred Owen to mature into one of the most memorable of the War p ...more
Apr 23, 2016 London rated it really liked it
"You love us when we're heroes, home on leave,
Or wounded in a mentionable place.
You worship decorations; you believe
That chivalry redeems the war's disgrace.
You make us shells. You listen with delight,
By tales of dirt and danger fondly thrilled.
You crown our distant ardours while we fight,
And mourn our laurelled memories when we're killed.
You can't believe that British troops “retire”
When hell's last horror breaks them, and they run,
Trampling the terrible corpses—blind with blood.
O German mothe
Robert Bason
Aug 29, 2014 Robert Bason rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: first-edition
Because the first World War began 100 years ago this year, I decided to pull out my (boxed) copy of a first edition of Siegried Sassoon's War Poems (London: William Heinemann, 1919) which I had never read. WHAT AN EXPERIENCE. I don't know much about World War I, but reading Sassoon's poetry of the war gave me a chilling "experience" of something of what it must have been like. Clearly, he is angry (at the "old men" who send boys out to die) and his poems are full of anguish and bitterness. They ...more
Jan 24, 2012 Rhonda rated it really liked it
Sassoon is one of those names one remembers because it sounds vaguely funny. When first introduced to him, probably in high school, I recall there being a joke about a bassoon. Still we knew he wasn't a really great poet because...well because he didn't sound like more than a relative to a hairdresser.
Then again his portrayal of war, and that is all we knew of him at the time, was disturbing. He described war in such stark detail that one could feel the rumble, smell the death and decay and wond
Oct 11, 2013 GONZA rated it really liked it
"The Redeemer"

Darkness: the rain sluiced down; the mire was deep;
It was past twelve on a mid-winter night,
When peaceful folk in beds lay snug asleep;
There, with much work to do before the light,
We lugged our clay-sucked boots as best we might
Along the trench; sometimes a bullet sang,
And droning shells burst with a hollow bang;
We were soaked, chilled and wretched, every one;
Darkness; the distant wink of a huge gun.

I turned in the black ditch, loathing the storm;
A rocket fizzed and burned with bla
Jun 30, 2013 Charlie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I saw this on a stand in Foyles when I was christmas shopping last year, the main reason I picked it up was because I'm a sucker for these Faber poetry editions. I had always thought that Sassoon's poems would be too formal and stuffy for me, after reading a couple I decided - yeah they are formal, but they are certainly not stuffy, and I bought it there and then which is not something I often do - well done Foyles.

It's not just the anger that I find so exciting about these poems, it's the thou
May 23, 2015 Abbey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sassoon is probably my favourite of the 'war poets', I find his words flow that little easier and hit that little harder than others do. I particularly liked this edition due to the inclusion of some of his post-war war poems, which were an interesting insight in how the war stays with soldiers. The introduction to this edition has also encouraged me to seek out some of Sassoon's later work.
Apr 08, 2016 Anouk rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I have very little knowledge of what makes good poetry, and very little experience reading it, so I will keep this brief.

Sassoon is to the point, with minimal vagueness or room for ambiguous interpretation. While I could imagine a more seasoned poetry reader could find this dull, it made it a perfectly accessible volume for me to start reading poetry.

One can see Sassoon evolving over the years, both in writing style and in his views on the war. That, perhaps more than the individual poems, gives
Dec 10, 2010 Elke rated it really liked it
It struck me how Siegfried Sassoon always uses the right closing sentences.
These make his poems great. They leave you with something to think about.

"and when the war is done and youth stone death
I'd toddle safely home and die- in bed." (Base details)

"I thought, 'How cheery the brave troops would be
if Sergeant-Majors thaught Theosophy!' " (Supreme Sacrifice)

"Yes...and the war won't end for at least two years;
but we've got stacks of men...I'm blind with tears,
Staring in the dark. Cheero!
I wish t
Frank Kelly
May 10, 2014 Frank Kelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poland, world-war-l, 2014
Gripping and desperate in his verse, Sassoon conveys the horror of war in his poems. His works left me better understanding the horror, the evil of war and the brutal senselessness of World War I That demolished his generation and Britain forever.

"and I must lead them nearer, day by day,
To the foul beast of war that bludgeons life."
- The Dream
Terri Loeffler
Mar 15, 2016 Terri Loeffler rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The war as it was.

Of all the books I've read about World War I (and I've read dozens), Siegfried Sassoon's poems seem to capture the essence of it best. From the horrors to the "glory," he gathers up all of the emotions and creates something beautiful in th protest of it. Great poetry.
Jason Vinje
Apr 09, 2015 Jason Vinje rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Essential Suffering

It's nothing short of frightening to realize that this is a man speaking of true events and not the dreams of some surrealist punk. It's like concrete; it's something close to perfect; it must never know the luxury of having been forgotten.
Helena Štěpánová
Jan 02, 2016 Helena Štěpánová rated it it was amazing
Sassoon, as a poet, is beautifully angry - but ever in control and ever precise and efficient in his use of language.
And there is always - even when he's at his most cynical - a living, beating, bleeding heart at the centre of it all.
Lee Gabriel
Sassoon is a master at work. My favorite poem by him is "Suicide in the Trenches"
This is a man who served in WWI born into a wealthy family who eventually through his poems saw war for what it truly was - an unnecessary sacrifice of soldiers' lives
Jul 04, 2009 Drew rated it really liked it
I've never been very interested in reading war novels and have never read any war poetry. I've had this book as part of a collection I bought five or so years ago but hadn't picked it up. I sat in the corner booth of the bar in my neighborhood and read the poems for an hour and a half. Sassoon's poetry depicts his evolution from an idealistic young army recruit in WWI to a disillusioned veteran. In an early poem he writes, "War is our scourge; yet war has made us wise/And, fighting for our freed ...more
Marti Martinson
Dec 25, 2014 Marti Martinson rated it it was amazing
Even better than Counter-Attack. Sassoon is the poetic and condemning voice against war.....for all time.
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Siegfried Loraine Sassoon, CBE was born into a wealthy banking family, the middle of 3 brothers. His Anglican mother and Jewish father separated when he was five. He had little subsequent contact with ‘Pappy’, who died of TB 4 years later. He presented his mother with his first ‘volume’ at 11. Sassoon spent his youth hunting, cricketing, reading, and writing. He was home-schooled until the age of ...more
More about Siegfried Sassoon...

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“Suicide in the trenches:

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

* * * * *

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.”
“Why do you lie with your legs ungainly huddled,
And one arm bent across your sullen cold
Exhausted face? It hurts my heart to watch you,
Deep-shadow'd from the candle's guttering gold;
And you wonder why I shake you by the shoulder;
Drowsy, you mumble and sigh and turn your head....
You are too young to fall asleep for ever;
And when you sleep you remind me of the dead.
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