You are too young to fall asleep for ever;
And when you sleep you remind me of the dead.

Siegfried Sassoon The War Poems (via sempiternale)

(via siegfriedlorainesassoon)

Where are you sleeping to-night, My Lad,
Above-ground—or below?
The last we heard you were up at the front,
Holding a trench and bearing the brunt;—
But—that was a week ago.

Ay!—that was a week ago, Dear Lad,
And a week is a long, long time,
When a second’s enough, in the thick of the strife,
To sever the thread of the bravest life,
And end it in its prime.

Oh, a week is long when so little’s enough
To send a man below.
It may be that while we named your name
The bullet sped and the quick end came,—
And the rest we shall never know.

But this we know, Dear Lad,—all’s well
With the man who has done his best.
And whether he live, or whether he die,
He is sacred high in our memory;—
And to God we can leave the rest.

So—wherever you’re sleeping to-night, Dear Lad,
This one thing we do know,—
When “Last Post” sounds, and He makes His rounds,
Not one of you all will be out of bounds,
Above ground or below.

“Where are you sleeping to-night, my lad?”, John Oxenham

Here lies a clerk who half his life had spent
Toiling at ledgers in a city grey,
Thinking that so his days would drift away
With no lance broken in life’s tournament:
Yet ever ’twixt the books and his bright eyes
The gleaming eagles of the legions came,
And horsemen, charging under phantom skies,
Went thundering past beneath the oriflamme.

And now those waiting dreams are satisfied;
From twilight to the halls of dawn he went;
His lance is broken; but he lies content
With that high hour, in which he lived and died.
And falling thus he wants no recompense,
Who found his battle in the last resort;
Nor needs he any hearse to bear him hence,
Who goes to join the men of Agincourt.

“The Volunteer” - Herbert Ashley Asquith

There will come soft rains and the smell of the ground,
And swallows circling with their shimmering sound;

And frogs in the pools, singing at night,
And wild plum trees in tremulous white,

Robins will wear their feathery fire,
Whistling their whims on a low fence-wire;

And not one will know of the war, not one
Will care at last when it is done.

Not one would mind, neither bird nor tree,
If mankind perished utterly;

And Spring herself, when she woke at dawn,
Would scarcely know that we were gone.

“There Will Come Soft Rains”, Sara Teasdale, 1920

Now that the soul has left its throne
Behind your mortal eyes,
And light, and colour and sound are gone
From the body’s palaces :
Still in his wood the blackbird calls,
But there is one too few to hear :
And one too few to watch the trout
Swim through the music of the weir.

And once I dreamt that you were gone,
As dust upon the wave ;
Or, as a drop in some deep well,
That none could sort or save.
But falling low between the stars,
So soon as I had such a fear,
At dusk and dawn a whisper came :
“The dead are near: the dead are near.”

The Fallen Poet, Herbert Ashley Asquith

From The Volunteer and Other Poems. 1917.

(via lord-kitschener)

(via siegfriedlorainesassoon)

Breathless, we flung us on the windy hill,
Laughed in the sun, and kissed the lovely grass.
You said, “Through glory and ecstasy we pass;
Wind, sun, and earth remain, the birds sing still,
When we are old, are old.…” “And when we die
All’s over that is ours; and life burns on
Through other lovers, other lips,” said I,
—“Heart of my heart, our heaven is now, is won!”

“We are Earth’s best, that learnt her lesson here.
Life is our cry. We have kept the faith!” we said;
“We shall go down with unreluctant tread
Rose-crowned into the darkness!”… Proud we were,
And laughed, that had such brave true things to say.
—And then you suddenly cried, and turned away.

The Hill - Rupert Brooke

To my brother


Your battle-wounds are scars upon my heart,
Received when in that grand and tragic ‘show’
You played your part,
Two years ago,

And silver in the summer morning sun
I see the symbol of your courage glow —
That Cross you won
Two years ago.

Though now again you watch the shrapnel fly,
And hear the guns that daily louder grow,
As in July
Two years ago.

May you endure to lead the Last Advance
And with your men pursue the flying foe
As once in France
Two years ago.

As I recall, Vera posted a copy of this poem to Edward. He never saw it.

Have you forgotten yet?
For the world’s events have rumbled on since those gagged days,
Like traffic checked a while at the crossing of city ways:
And the haunted gap in your mind has filled with thoughts that flow
Like clouds in the lit heavens of life; and you’re a man reprieved to go,
Taking your peaceful share of Time, with joy to spare.
But the past is just the same,—and War’s a bloody game….
Have you forgotten yet?…

From “Aftermath" - Siegfried Sassoon,1920.

The Leveller


Near Martinpuich that night of hell 
Two men were struck by the same shell,
Together tumbling in one heap 
Senseless and limp like slaughtered sheep.

One was a pale eighteen-year-old, 
Blue-eyed and thin and not too bold,
Pressed for the war ten years too soon, 
The shame and pity of his platoon.

The other came from far-off lands 
With bristling chin and whiskered hands,
He had known death and hell before 
In Mexico and Ecuador.

Yet in his death this cut-throat wild 
Groaned ‘Mother! Mother!’ like a child,
While that poor innocent in man’s clothes 
Died cursing God with brutal oaths.

Old Sergeant Smith, kindest of men, 
Wrote out two copies there and then 
Of his accustomed funeral speech 
To cheer the womenfolk of each:

'He died a hero's death: and we 
His comrades of “A” Company
Deeply regret his death: we shall 
All deeply miss so true a pal.’

- Robert Graves

Troop Trains


Troop trains troop trains
Passing on their way.
A sudden gust of cheering cuts
The crisp cold winter’s day.

Above, a sky swept clear of cloud,
A blue infinity;
Below, the dun-brown carriages
Steaming towards the quay.

All along the railway line,
Where the people dwell,
Flecks of eager handkerchiefs
Fluttering in farewell.

Troop trains, troops trains,
Hear the bugle’s note,
Flags, and cheers, and music, and…..
A touch that grips the throat.

—Alice Gore-Jones, 1917

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