Siegfried Sassoon quotes

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Siegfried Sassoon

Birthdate: 8. September 1886
Date of death: 1. September 1967

Siegfried Loraine Sassoon, was an 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 the trenches and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon's view, were responsible for a jingoism-fuelled war. Sassoon became a focal point for dissent within the armed forces when he made a lone protest against the continuation of the war in his "Soldier's Declaration" of 1917, culminating in his admission to a military psychiatric hospital; this resulted in his forming a friendship with Wilfred Owen, who was greatly influenced by him. Sassoon later won acclaim for his prose work, notably his three-volume fictionalised autobiography, collectively known as the "Sherston trilogy". Wikipedia

Works

Autumn
Siegfried Sassoon

„I am making this statement as an act of wilful 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.“

—  Siegfried Sassoon

A Soldier's Declaration (July 1917)
Context: I am making this statement as an act of wilful 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, on which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest.

„Well might the Dead who struggled in the slime
Rise and deride this sepulchre of crime.“

—  Siegfried Sassoon

"On Passing the New Menin Gate" (1927-1928)
Collected Poems (1949)
Context: Here was the world's worst wound. And here with pride
'Their name liveth for evermore' the Gateway claims.
Was ever an immolation so belied
As these intolerably nameless names?
Well might the Dead who struggled in the slime
Rise and deride this sepulchre of crime.

„Soldiers are citizens of death's grey land,
Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.“

—  Siegfried Sassoon

The Counter-Attack and Other Poems (1918)
Context: Soldiers are citizens of death's grey land,
Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.

„I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the contrivance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize.“

—  Siegfried Sassoon

A Soldier's Declaration (July 1917)
Context: I have seen and endured the sufferings 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 contrivance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize.

„Mute in the clamour of shells he watched them burst
Spouting dark earth and wire with gusts from hell,
While posturing giants dissolved in drifts of smoke.“

—  Siegfried Sassoon

"Counter-Attack"
The Counter-Attack and Other Poems (1918)
Context: Mute in the clamour of shells he watched them burst
Spouting dark earth and wire with gusts from hell,
While posturing giants dissolved in drifts of smoke.
He crouched and flinched, dizzy with galloping fear,
Sick for escape,— loathing the strangled horror
And butchered, frantic gestures of the dead.

„O martyred youth and manhood overthrown,
The burden of your wrongs is on my head.“

—  Siegfried Sassoon, Autumn

"Autumn"
The Counter-Attack and Other Poems (1918)
Context: October's bellowing anger breakes and cleaves
The bronzed battalions of the stricken wood
In whose lament I hear a voice that grieves
For battle's fruitless harvest, and the feud
Of outrage men. Their lives are like the leaves
Scattered in flocks of ruin, tossed and blown
Along the westering furnace flaring red.
O martyred youth and manhood overthrown,
The burden of your wrongs is on my head.

„Selfless and ardent, resolute and gay,
So in this hour, in strange survival stands
Your ghost, whom I am powerless to repay.“

—  Siegfried Sassoon

Collected Poems (1949), Revisitation
Context: O fathering friend and scientist of good,
Who in solitude, one bygone summer’s day,
And in the throes of bodily anguish, passed away
From dream and conflict and research-lit lands
Of ethnological learning, — even as you stood
Selfless and ardent, resolute and gay,
So in this hour, in strange survival stands
Your ghost, whom I am powerless to repay.

„Let no one ever, from henceforth say one word in any way countenancing war.“

—  Siegfried Sassoon

As quoted by Robert Nichols in his introduction to The Counter-Attack and Other Poems (1918)
Context: Let no one ever, from henceforth say one word in any way countenancing war. It is dangerous even to speak of how here and there the individual may gain some hardship of soul by it. For war is hell, and those who institute it are criminals. Were there even anything to say for it, it should not be said; for its spiritual disasters far outweigh any of its advantages.

„Here was the world's worst wound.“

—  Siegfried Sassoon

"On Passing the New Menin Gate" (1927-1928)
Collected Poems (1949)
Context: Here was the world's worst wound. And here with pride
'Their name liveth for evermore' the Gateway claims.
Was ever an immolation so belied
As these intolerably nameless names?
Well might the Dead who struggled in the slime
Rise and deride this sepulchre of crime.

„October's bellowing anger breakes and cleaves
The bronzed battalions of the stricken wood“

—  Siegfried Sassoon, Autumn

"Autumn"
The Counter-Attack and Other Poems (1918)
Context: October's bellowing anger breakes and cleaves
The bronzed battalions of the stricken wood
In whose lament I hear a voice that grieves
For battle's fruitless harvest, and the feud
Of outrage men. Their lives are like the leaves
Scattered in flocks of ruin, tossed and blown
Along the westering furnace flaring red.
O martyred youth and manhood overthrown,
The burden of your wrongs is on my head.

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„Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?“

—  Siegfried Sassoon

"On Passing the New Menin Gate" (1927-1928)
Collected Poems (1949)
Context: Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?
Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate, —
Those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones?
Crudely renewed, the Salient holds its own.
Paid are its dim defenders by this pomp;
Paid, with a pile of peace-complacent stone,
The armies who endured that sullen swamp.

„Paid, with a pile of peace-complacent stone,
The armies who endured that sullen swamp.“

—  Siegfried Sassoon

"On Passing the New Menin Gate" (1927-1928)
Collected Poems (1949)
Context: Who will remember, passing through this Gate,
The unheroic Dead who fed the guns?
Who shall absolve the foulness of their fate, —
Those doomed, conscripted, unvictorious ones?
Crudely renewed, the Salient holds its own.
Paid are its dim defenders by this pomp;
Paid, with a pile of peace-complacent stone,
The armies who endured that sullen swamp.

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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