On Veteran’s Day

One of the leading poets of the First World War, Siegfried Loraine Sassoon, CBE, MC (1886 – 1967) 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.
We may wonder what his lone protest against the continuation of the war in his “Soldier’s Declaration” of 1917 has made politicians change their ideas. Problem with human souls is that their perverted exercise of power shall continue bloodshed all over the world.

Skull 1924 by Otto Dix.

Skull 1924 by Otto Dix. Photograph: The British Museum

+++

  • Doctor who treated Siegfried Sasson ‘pioneered’ anthropology (theguardian.com)
    William Rivers, the doctor who treated officers including Siegfried Sassoon for shell shock during the first world war, and who was memorably brought to life in Pat Barker’s Booker prize-winning Regeneration trilogy, was also one of the fathers of social anthropology, according to a new book which claims his work in the field was written out of history by subsequent academics.
  • Young poets speaking up for the Great War’s ‘forgotten’ (oxfordtimes.co.uk)
    3 young people from the Leys Community Development Initiative (CDI) will perform one-minute tributes to the forgotten citizens of the war.
    +
    “The contributions of some communities in the UK and across the globe are often overlooked and this project aims to shine a light on all those who paid a price to help secure the freedoms we hold so dear today.”
  • Tower of London Poppy Tribute (serenataflowers.com)
    A red sea of ceramic poppies has been placed at the Tower of London in order to celebrate the 100th year of the First World War. So far an incredible £11.2 million has been raised for charity.

    Aptly named the Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red, the piece of art will eventually see a total of 888,246 poppies in the ground to represent each and every solider that died from the UK, Australia and the Commonwealth during World War One.

  • the soldier poets of the First World War (3quarksdaily.com)
    One of the worst experiences for soldiers in the trenches seems to have been the sense that landscape itself had been dissolved and unwritten by the continuous bombardment known as drum-fire, and replaced by what David Jones called “the unformed voids of that mysterious existence”. Place, ground to stand on and comprehend, took on especial importance in a war of attrition. The places from which the war poets came, and to which they looked back, were often as bloodstained as Otterburn – Wilfred Owen’s Romano–Welsh border, Jones’s half-legendary Welsh interior, Siegfried Sassoon’s Sussex where the Normans invaded, and Rupert Brooke’s more generalized England, dulled, as apparently it seemed to him, by the long post-Napoleonic respite from direct military threat.
  • History and all its grisly facts are worth more than the illusion of memory (tphnh.blogspot.com)
    Cameron is wrong. Poppies muffle the truth about world war one
    In 1924 the German artist Otto Dix depicted a skull, lying on the ground, a home to worms. They crawl out of its eye sockets, nasal opening and mouth, and wriggle among patches of hair and a black moustache or are they growths of grass? that still cling to the raw bone.
    +
    These experiences were real, this war was real, and it means absolutely nothing to reduce it all to vague feelings of universal grief. What we owe the youth of that generation is to attend to the details of the history that caught them in its hungry jaws. We need to smell the rotting earth and gunpowder, feel the boots falling apart in muddy water, the pounding in the chest as the guns started up. The installation at the Tower is abstract, and tells nothing about that history. It is instead a representation of grief as such – a second-hand evocation of feelings about the dead.
  • The lights of the living (macleans.ca)
    The spectres of Sassoon and Owen were certainly palpable earlier this month when, on Oct. 17, nearly 10,000 torchbearers stood for an hour in complete silence along Belgium’s Western Front as part of a ceremony called the Light Front. From the town of Nieuwpoort, along the bank of the Yser river, through the hills of Ypres and Heuvelland to Mesen and Ploegsteert, thousands of people from Europe and North America came out to remember the cataclysm of human loss that began and ended on this stretch of land a century earlier.
  • 27 British People Pay Tribute To Their Relatives Who Died During World War I (buzzfeed.com)
    Thousands of people are also remembering Britain’s soldiers – and their family members – online, through a variety of messages. Here are some of them:

Shelf Talk

This is the year we commemorate the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I. There is a beautiful and moving installation of poppies at the Tower of London, especially to honor the British and colonial deaths in that war.

Poppy panorama by Phil Guest via Flikr

But more generally let me say: there are not words enough to honor our veterans, nor praise great enough to mitigate their sacrifices. We grieve for those who were lost in war, we think of those who survive it, we hold those in the midst of war in our hearts today. For this day, a poem from the man who became the voice of World War I for many people, Siegfried Sassoon. Many of his poems are bleak and hard to read, but this one has always shaken me the most; that he went through war, a horrific war, and could still write something so hopeful, or at least…

View original post 109 more words

Leave a comment

Filed under Activism and Peace Work, History, Poetry - Poems, Re-Blogs and Great Blogs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s