The War Poems (FF Classics) Paperback – 4 Oct 1999
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Sassoon, who lived through Word 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 the war, are an extraordinary testimony to the almost unimaginable experiences of a combatant in that bitter conflict. Moving from the patriotic optimism of the first few poems (" ... fighting for our freedom, we are free") to the anguish and anger of the later work (where "hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists / Flounders in mud ... "), there comes a point when the reality of trench-warfare and its aftershocks move beyond comprehension: Sassoon knows this, and it becomes a powerful element in his art. As a book, the images have a cumulative relentlessness that make it almost impossible to read more than a few poems in one sitting.
Unlike the avant-garde experiments developing in Europe in the first decades of this century, Sassoon's verse is formally conservative--but this was perhaps necessary, for as one reads the poems, one feels that the form, the classically inflected tropes, the metre and rhyme, apart from ironising the rhetoric of glory and battle were necessary techniques for containing the emotion (and indeed, a tone of barely controlled irony may have been the only means by which these angry observations would have been considered publishable at the time). When Sassoon's line begins to fragment, as it does in several of the later poems, it is under the extreme pressure to express the inexpressible. Compassion and sympathy are omnipresent here, in their full etymological sense of suffering with or alongside others--something the higher echelons of command (those " ... old men who died / Slow, natural deaths--old men with ugly souls") were never able or willing to contemplate. But Sassoon intuited the future of warfare, could sense that this was not "the war to end all wars": the mock-religious invocation of the final poem prefigures the vicious euphemisms of more recent conflicts: "Grant us the power to prove, by poison gases, / The needlessness of shedding human blood." Sassoon's bile-black irony signals a deep-felt pessimism: it was with good reason. --Burhan Tufail
In later years, when Siegfried Sassoon had written much else in prose and verse, he was annoyed at always being referred to simply as a war poet, but it was the Great War that turned him into a poet of international fame, and I feel sure that his ghost will forgive me for thus bringing together these magnificently scarifying poems. "Rupert Hart-Davis, from his Introduction"" --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
To read his work even one at two of his poems will show you the horrors of war better than any Hollywood movie.
Reading his work is like talking to the man, and he has given you excess to every private though in him . He is a true great.
What particulary stood out for me was the parallels to the modern experience of soldiers and attitudes to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Not only did the poems tell of the true horrors of war, they also reflected the cold indifference and misunderstanding of civilians back home. My favorite is "Hero" which encapsulates a number of these themes.
I think it a good book - the 4 stars reflects only that, in this genre, I prefer Owen and Brooke.
ourselves of how ghastly it was. Along with the poems of Wilfrid Owen, we step briefly into the squelchy mud and horrific sights,
breathe the gas and hope to survive...
Sassoon was a great friend of Robert Graves, who did have an influence on what Sassoon wrote, rather like how Sassoon had an effect on Wilfred Owen. Although Sassoon wrote in a more traditional style, indeed this is probably better than a more modernist approach and is more powerful when it comes to war he did have an influence on the Modernist Movement in that he described the gritty and hard truth.
To me Sassoon brings the life in the trenches to life, and he writes to the common man, no arty-farty nonsense here. He writes what we can all feel and understand and to my mind is a great help if you are studying that period in history. And lest we forget, the man was a hero himself, after all he was awarded the Military Cross. So, even if you don't normally read poetry but are interested in the First World War then I would strongly urge you to read this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
But what a difficult read: hard if you're sixteen and reading it for gcse.Published 1 month ago by Mrs M ary Kempson
I had to buy this twice, as I don't have a kindle. When I put this in my basket it billed me before check out.Published 4 months ago by Bob Bobertson
What a wonderful insight into the horrors of war but uplifting at timesPublished 15 months ago by nanbread
Saved our sun flowers and hosta's from being eaten this summer. A must product for and "green gardener"Published 21 months ago by MR P A LEE