Now all roads lead to France and heavy is the tread
Of the living; but the dead returning lightly dance.
Edward Thomas, Roads

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Not Always Antiwar: An Early Poem of Siegfried Sassoon, MC

Thanks to "Finest Hour: The Journal of Winston Churchill," an interesting and revealing bit of poetry has come to the editor's attention. It shows that prior to his arrival on the Western Front, Siegfried Sassoon, now considered the preeminent antiwar soldier-poet of the Great War, was of a like mind to, say, Rupert Brooke. Here is what he wrote prior to his actual service at the front:

Because We Are Going

Because we are going from our wonted places
To be task-ridden by one shattering Aim,
And terror hides in all our laughing faces
That had no will to die, no thirst for fame,
Hear our last word. In Hell we seek for Heaven;
The agony of wounds shall make us clean;
And the failures of our sloth shall be forgiven
When Silence holds the songs that might have been,
And what we served remains, superb, unshaken,
England, our June of blossom that shines above
Disastrous War; for whom we have forsaken
Ways that were rich and gleeful and filled with love.
Thus are we heroes; since we might not choose
To live where Honour gave us life to lose.