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Counter-Attack and Other Poems   By: (1886-1967)

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First Page:

COUNTER ATTACK AND OTHER POEMS

BY SIEGFRIED SASSOON

With An Introduction By Robert Nichols

TO ROBERT ROSS

Dans la trêve desolée de cette matinée, ces hommes qui avaient été tenaillés par la fatigue, fouettés par la pluie, bouleversés par toute une nuit de tonnerre, ces rescapés des volcans et de l'inondation entrevoyaient à quel point la guerre, aussi hideuse au moral qu'au physique, non seulement viole le bon sens, avilit les grandes idées, commande tous les crimes mais ils se rappelaient combien elle avait développé en eux et autour d'eux tous les mauvais instincts sans en excepter un seul; la méchanceté jusqu'au sadisme, l'égoisme jusqu'à la férocité, le besoin de jouir jusqu'à la folie. HENRI BARBUSSE. (Le Feu.)

CONTENTS

INTRODUCTION BY ROBERT NICHOLS PRELUDE: THE TROOPS COUNTER ATTACK THE REAR GUARD WIRERS ATTACK DREAMERS HOW TO DIE THE EFFECT TWELVE MONTHS AFTER THE FATHERS BASE DETAILS THE GENERAL LAMENTATIONS DOES IT MATTER? FIGHT TO A FINISH EDITORIAL IMPRESSIONS SUICIDE IN THE TRENCHES GLORY OF WOMEN THEIR FRAILTY THE HAWTHORN TREE THE INVESTITURE TRENCH DUTY BREAK OF DAY TO ANY DEAD OFFICER SICK LEAVE BANISHMENT SONG BOOKS OF THE WAR THRUSHES AUTUMN INVOCATION REPRESSION OF WAR EXPERIENCE THE TRIUMPH SURVIVORS JOY BELLS REMORSE DEAD MUSICIANS THE DREAM IN BARRACKS TOGETHER

INTRODUCTION

Sassoon the Man

In appearance he is tall, big boned, loosely built. He is clean shaven, pale or with a flush; has a heavy jaw, wide mouth with the upper lip slightly protruding and the curve of it very pronounced like that of a shrivelled leaf (as I have noticed is common in many poets). His nose is aquiline, the nostrils being wide and heavily arched. This characteristic and the fullness, depth and heat of his dark eyes give him the air of a sullen falcon. He speaks slowly, enunciating the words as if they pained him, in a voice that has something of the troubled thickness apparent in the voices of those who emerge from a deep grief. As he speaks, his large hands, roughened by trench toil and by riding, wander aimlessly until some emotion grips him when the knuckles harden and he clutches at his knees or at the edge of the table. And all the while he will be breathing hard like a man who has swum a distance. When he reads his poems he chants and one would think that he communed with himself save that, at the pauses, he shoots a powerful glance at the listener. Between the poems he is still but moves his lips... He likes best to speak of hunting (he will shout of it!), of open air mornings when the gorse alone flames brighter than the sky, of country quiet, of his mother,

[Footnote: His father was a well to do country gentleman of Anglo Jewish stock, his mother an English woman, a Miss Thornycroft, sister of the sculptor of that name.]

of poetry usually Shelley, Masefield and Thomas Hardy and last and chiefly but always with a rapid, tumbling enunciation and a much irked desperate air filled with pain of soldiers. For the incubus of war is on him so that his days are shot with anguish and his nights with horror.

He is twenty eight years old; was educated at Marlborough and Christchurch, Oxford; was a master of fox hounds and is a captain in the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. Thrice he has fought in France and once in Palestine. Behind his name are set the letters M.C. since he has won the Military Cross for an act of valour which went near to securing him a higher honour.

Sassoon the Poet

The poetry of Siegfried Sassoon divides itself into two rough classes the idyllic and the satiric. War has defiled one to produce the other. At heart Siegfried Sassoon is an idealist.

Before the war he had hardly published a line. He spent his summers in the company of books, at the piano, on expeditions, and in playing tennis. During winter he hunted. Hunting was a greater passion with him than poetry... Continue reading book >>




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