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The War Poems

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  1,104 ratings  ·  46 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, 168 pages
Published May 14th 2013 by Faber & Faber (first published 1919)
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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.
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.




Casnewydd Hydra
The human condition.
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
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
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
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
Jeanette (jema)
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
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
I have very little knowledge of what makes good poetry, and very little experience reading it, so I will keep thjs 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
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
"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

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
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
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
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
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
Even better than Counter-Attack. Sassoon is the poetic and condemning voice against war.....for all time.
A beautiful collection of powerful poems.
I wish someone could write something that would affect people on the Iraq war like this affected people during WWI. Although I don't like Sasson's poetry as much as Wilfred Owen (Owen is less literary and more gut-punching)the focus in these poems comes down hard on the war. They are not difficult to read as much poetry is because they are not trying to do anything but let people know what experiencing the war was really like. Sassoon did write other poetry as well as these war poems.
A wonderful and moving collection of poems written between 1915 and 1934, many of them at Craiglockhart in 1917.

As we mark the centeniary of the beginning of WW1, a war that I refuse to call 'Great, I shall dip into some Sassoon over the next four years even though I have marked it 'read'.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Siegfried Loraine Sassoon, CBE, MC (8 September 1886 – 1 September 1967) was an eminent English poet, writer, and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of
Ayne Ray
Sassoon's evolution from wide eyed patriot to a battle hardened, weary soldier speaking truth to power about the horrors of World War I helped pave the way for future generations to write honestly and openly about warfare, defying the barrage of propaganda that hailed the glory of war while ignoring its dark reality.
Sassoon's poetry sometimes falls flat, but when it succeeds it's startling, wounding, and shines. Moreover, I can only admire his dedication to the commemoration and mourning of men and war -- his rage, defiance and at times acceptance of the brutal machines of history.
Scott Whitney
I wanted to read other war poems as many of the memories I have of my time in Baghdad are coming out in poetic form. I did not appreciate all these, but there were a couple which struck an acord in me. I liked the book, just not all the poetry within it.
The poems in this collection are wonderful, thought provoking poem from the man that was a hero in his own right - these poems are hard hitting and powerful and always touches your raw emotions with their skill and deliverance, and all are heart felt.
Cooper Renner
A lot of these poems are just well-done verse, but the best ones--which are concentrated in the second section of the book--are short, sharp, caustic lyric looks at the cruelty of war and the leaders who force ordinary to wage it.
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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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