Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The War Poems” as Want to Read:
The War Poems
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The War Poems

4.23  ·  Rating details ·  1,830 Ratings  ·  61 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 June 7th 2012 by Faber Faber (first published 1919)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The War Poems, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The War Poems

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Feb 28, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As noted in my Wilfred Owen review – I am by no means a great poetry reader*: and as such, not best placed to provide a review of a collection of poetry. We were force fed the War Poets of the Great War whilst at school – a process which was both counter-productive and alienating (from the poems). Only now have I felt able to revisit these poets with a clear, open and comparatively unsullied mind.

Sassoon is forever defined by his poems of the Great War and as a ’War Poet’ due to his literary out
Jul 05, 2009 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
Sep 24, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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 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
Mar 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Bettie
Free download available at Project Gutenberg.




Mar 27, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Bettie☯ by: Laura

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
Dan Wellington
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this collection. No surprise here. Sassoon is one of the most widely read poets of the 20th century. Here he uses direct rhyme schemes in a modernist style. I found a 1/3 of the poems to be quite beautiful and image provoking. The only drawback is that he rarely uses anything other than direct rhyming conventions.

A lot of Sassoon's poems here ooze resentment both towards British families back home with little understanding of the horrors of the war and towards an establishment
Feb 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Isca Silurum
Feb 11, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
The human condition.
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
Apr 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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
Jan 16, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 27, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Dec 15, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww1-first-hand, ww1
very good
Jul 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone :)
AMAZING. ONE OF MY FAVOURITE BOOKS EVER. Seigfried Sassoon is da man for poems. His collection was a true eye-opener into how it was like in the trenches and the feeling of despair that was constantly in the air. His writing was beautiful and powerful yet simple and easy to read and follow along. Reading his work is like drinking metaphorical liquid gems.

Currently re-reading this. My teacher saw me with the book and asked why I read it when it was so depressing (and apparently they make J1 stude
Feb 25, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel a little guilty rating this 3 stars when I consider where and when these poems were written. They are beautiful, and I enjoyed them. In particular, I enjoyed 'Suicide in Trenches', 'Base Details', 'Does It Matter?', 'Survivors', 'The Tombstone-Maker', 'Repression of War Experience' and 'The Hawthorn Tree'.
Oct 11, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Aug 02, 2014 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jun 30, 2013 rated it really liked it

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
Nov 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jul 01, 2014 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
Jan 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 04, 2014 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
Nov 19, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Paul Taylor
Aug 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
May 18, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
May 20, 2015 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.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Collected Poems of Wilfred Owen
  • The Penguin Book of First World War Poetry
  • Kid
  • Making Cocoa for Kingsley Amis
  • Scars Upon My Heart: Women's Poetry And Verse Of The First World War
  • Tell Me the Truth about Love
  • High Windows
  • 1914, and Other Poems
  • Undertones of War
  • In Parenthesis
  • Death of a Naturalist
  • World War One British Poets: Brooke, Owen, Sassoon, Rosenberg and Others
  • Up the Line to Death
  • Crow: From the Life and Songs of the Crow (Faber Library)
  • Answering Back: Living Poets Reply to the Poetry of the Past
  • Forgotten Voices of the Great War
  • Collected Poems
  • Some Desperate Glory: The First World War the Poets Knew
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...

Share This Book

“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.
More quotes…