Sunday, November 11, 2007

A Poem for Veterans Day

Since Veterans Day was originally Armistice Day, the end of the First World War, I thought a piece from that era would be appropriate.


SOLDIERS are citizens of death's gray 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.

Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win

Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.

Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin

They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,

And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,

Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,

And mocked by hopeless longing to regain

Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,

And going to the office in the train.

--Siegfried Sassoon


Anja Maria said...

Sassoon (and Owen) are really some of the best poets of the 20th century, especially if poetry is to be measured by the ability to convey another person's truth. You read the poems and you're there, in the trenches, where nothing is glorified. But they paint the ugliness with grace.

If you like them too, you might enjoy Regeneration, a novel about the effects of shell shock on WWI soldiers (among other things - it also deals with homosexuality/masculinity in wartime).

Joseph said...

Anja Maria!! Good the hear from you!!

Anonymous said...

Great visit to the past. Nice chose of words on this solemn day.

pablo said...

Excellent poem choice, Joe.

Sometimes nothing can take the place of poetry for conveying feelings and thoughts.

pablo said...

Joe, I know I have already forwarded this poem to you, but I thought your readers might be interested in the following poem reading by a Vietnam War veteran, relating to facing the memorial wall. The poem is 'Facing It', by Yusef Komunyakaa (quite a memorable intro and reading of the poem)...
Link to ,
then scroll near the bottom and select the video for ‘Facing It’.