Tuesday, 5 August 2014

The beginning of the war

I lit a candle last night, and was profoundly moved by the service at Westminster Abbey, especially the performance of Vaughan Williams' "Lark Ascending", which I thought was absolutely stunning, played by (BBC Young Musician of the Year 2002) Jennifer Pike.

Anne and I were talking about the World War 1 poets we'd covered at our respective schools... I was surprised to discover that, despite being sure I'd read some of Seigfried Sassoon, I couldn't remember any... so I spent a fair chunk of the rest of the evening reading some.

So herewith, to rectify that:
Trench Duty 
Shaken from sleep, and numbed and scarce awake,
Out in the trench with three hours' watch to take,
I blunder through the splashing mirk; and then
Hear the gruff muttering voices of the men
Crouching in cabins candle-chinked with light.
Hark! There's the big bombardment on our right
Rumbling and bumping; and the dark's a glare
Of flickering horror in the sectors where
We raid the Boche; men waiting, stiff and chilled,
Or crawling on their bellies through the wire.
What? Stretcher-bearers wanted? Some one killed?"
Five minutes ago I heard a sniper fire:
Why did he do it?... Starlight overhead —
Blank stars. I'm wide-awake; and some chap's dead.

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