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15 May 2005

recycled old poem for Iraq / Afghanistan wars

by Siegfried Sassoon (1886 - 1967)

(Sassoon was a British Army officer in the trenches of France during World War One.)

The Bishop tells us: 'When the boys come back
They will not be the same; for they'll have fought
In a just cause: they lead the last attack
On Anti-Christ; their comrades' blood has bought
New right to breed an honourable race,
They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.'

'We're none of us the same!' the boys reply.
'For George lost both his legs; and Bill's stone blind;
Poor Jim's shot through the lungs and like to die;
And Bert's gone syphilitic: you'll not find
A chap who's served that hasn't found some change.'
And the Bishop said: 'The ways of God are strange!'


Blogger Joana said...

" I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe 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 defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the suffering of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practised on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of sufferings which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize."

(Siegfried Sassoon)

....Alas to this day still as true

Blogger Bob Merkin said...

That statement almost got him executed by a firing squad. Sassoon returned to England from the French trenches so angry and disgusted at the senseless throwing-away of soldiers' lives for no perceivable military gain that he was in danger of being court-martialed for mutiny.

His friends -- poet officers -- managed to get him sent to a military hospital for the shell-shocked, they talked the army into treating him not like a mutineer, but like a crazy man. It saved his life.

See latest post, another WWI poem. I wish there weren't any war poems. I don't mind the poems. It's the wars I don't like.


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