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Mentone Girls' Grammar School | Kerferd Library

War Poetry: Siegfried Sassoon

Year 10 English | Language [VCELA] Literature [VCELT]

Source: Four Canadian soldiers, sleeping and writing letters in the trenches near Willerval. (IWM, 2019). Insert image: Siegfried Sassoon. Imperial War Museum (Q 101780).

Level 1 resource"The ‘war poet’ and ‘war poetry’, observed Robert Graves in 1942, were ‘terms first used in World War I and perhaps peculiar to it’. From Anglo-Saxon times to the Boer War, war poetry in English was written largely by civilians and did not have a clearly defined identity; with the extraordinary outpouring between 1914 and 1918, it established itself as a genre and the soldier-poet became a species." (Das, 2014)

Referencing Notice Don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For help see the Junior School or Senior School referencing guides, and / or CiteMaker.
Resource Key

When accessing content use the numbers below to guide you:

LEVEL

Brief, basic information laid out in an easy-to-read format. May use informal language. (Includes most news articles)

LEVEL

Provides additional background information and further reading. Introduces some subject-specific language.

Level 3 resourceLEVEL

Lengthy, detailed information. Frequently uses technical/subject-specific language. (Includes most analytical articles)

General Capabilities
Enduring Understandings
  • Students will understand that poetry is a deliberate form of language where structural and linguistic features combine to create meaning.
  • Students will understand that the poetry of war has a long tradition in literature.
  • Students will understand that meaning may change depending on the context, culture and linguistic understanding of the reader.
Essential Questions
  • How is poetry different to prose?
  • How can we create meaning with language?

Jump toJump to: Quick facts | Articles | eBooks | Poems

War Poetry | Siegfried Sassoon: Quick facts

Siegfried Sassoon
Siegfried Sassoon by Bassano Ltd whole-plate glass negative, 23 August 1920 Given by Bassano & Vandyk Studios, 1974
NPG x18941 © National Portrait Gallery, London
Level 1Siegfried Sassoon (8 September 1886 – 1 September 1967)
  • Born in England on 8 September 1886 and died on 1 September 1967 aged 80.
  • Siegfried's father was part of the wealthy Baghdadi Jewish Sassoon family. The Sassoons were merchants with business interests, that included opiun, cotton and banking across Asia and the Middle East. Siegfried's father had moved to England in the 1850's.
  • Famous for for his anti war poems and being part of the post World War I "lost generation" and the extended Bloomsbury group.

War Poetry | Siegfried Sassoon: Articles

Level 2Articles

War Poetry | Siegfried Sassoon: eBooks and book chapters

Level 2 resourceClick on the following book covers to place a hold in the library catalogue or access the book online. If prompted, sign in with your School mConnect user name and password.

War Poetry | Siegfried Sassoon: Poems

Using YouTube on campus help and instructions
In this section you will find the poem as well as online content that provides additional background information and literary criticism. Scroll down to see all the content.

Attack

By Siegfried Sassoon

At dawn the ridge emerges massed and dun
In the wild purple of the glow'ring sun,
Smouldering through spouts of drifting smoke that shroud
The menacing scarred slope; and, one by one,
Tanks creep and topple forward to the wire.
The barrage roars and lifts. Then, clumsily bowed
With bombs and guns and shovels and battle-gear,
Men jostle and climb to, meet the bristling fire.
Lines of grey, muttering faces, masked with fear,
They leave their trenches, going over the top,
While time ticks blank and busy on their wrists,
And hope, with furtive eyes and grappling fists,
Flounders in mud. O Jesus, make it stop!

 

Source: Sassoon, S. (1918) Attack. Retrieved from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57323/attack-56d23aba391f5


Level 1 resourceFilm and videoTo view this video on campus remember to first login to your school Google account using your mConnect username and password. Click here for more help on using YouTube on campus.

Source

When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.

In text citation: (Arterton, 2013) or Arterton (2013)
Bibliography / Reference list:Arterton, G. (2013). Attack by Siegfried Sassoon: Read by Gemma Arterton. Channel 4 . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/r6D3OUJk3rs

Using YouTube on campus help and instructions
In this section you will find the poem as well as online content that provides additional background information and literary criticism. Scroll down to see all the content.

The Dug-Out

By Siegfried Sassoon

Why do you lie with your legs ungainly huddled,
And one arm bent across your sullen, cold,
Exhausted face? It hurts my heart to watch you,
Deep-shadowed from the candle’s guttering gold;
And you wonder why I shake you by the shoulder;
Drowsy, you mumble and sigh and turn your head. . . .
You are too young to fall asleep for ever;
And when you sleep you remind me of the dead.

 

Source: Sassoon, S. (1918) The Dug-Out. Retrieved from https://engpoetry.com/siegfried-sassoon/the-dug-out/


Level 1 resourceFilm and videoTo view this video on campus remember to first login to your school Google account using your mConnect username and password. Click here for more help on using YouTube on campus.

Source

When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.

In text citation: (Okonedo, 2013) or Okonedo (2013)
Bibliography / Reference list:Okonedo, S. (2013). The Dug Out by Siegfried Sassoon: Read by Sophie Okondeo. Channel 4 . Retrieved from https://youtu.be/zI7MbCmjN9w

Using YouTube on campus help and instructions
In this section you will find the poem as well as online content that provides additional background information and literary criticism.

They

By Siegfried Sassoon

The Bishop tells us: 'When the boys come back
'They will not be the same; for they'll have fought
'In a just cause: they lead the last attack
'On Anti-Christ; their comrades' blood has bought
'New right to breed an honourable race,
'They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.'

'We're none of us the same!' the boys reply.
'For George lost both his legs; and Bill's stone blind;
'Poor Jim's shot through the lungs and like to die;
'And Bert's gone syphilitic: you'll not find
'A chap who's served that hasn't found some change.
' And the Bishop said: 'The ways of God are strange!'

 

Source: Sassoon, S. (1917) They. Retrieved from http://projects.oucs.ox.ac.uk/jtap/tutorials/intro/sassoon/they.html


Using YouTube on campus help and instructions
In this section you will find the poem as well as online content that provides additional background information and literary criticism.

Suicide In The Trenches

By Siegfried Sassoon

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

 

Source: Sassoon, S. (1918) Suicide In The Trenches Retrieved from https://engpoetry.com/siegfried-sassoon/suicide-in-the-trenches/


Level 1 resourceFilm and videoTo view this video on campus remember to first login to your school Google account using your mConnect username and password. Click here for more help on using YouTube on campus.

Source

When using this video don't forget to cite and reference your sources. For more information and help see the Kerferd Library referencing guide and / or CiteMaker.

In text citation: (Graham, 2013) or Graham (2013)
Bibliography / Reference list:Graham, S. (2013). Suicide in the Trenches by Siegfried Sassoon: Read by Stephen Graham. Channel 4. Retrieved from https://youtu.be/aLuTiITZykg

Using YouTube on campus help and instructions
In this section you will find the poem as well as online content that provides additional background information and literary criticism.

The General

By Siegfried Sassoon

“Good-morning, good-morning!” the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead,
And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
“He's a cheery old card,” grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

But he did for them both by his plan of attack.

 

Source: Sassoon, S. (1918) The General. Retrieved from https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/57217/the-general-56d23a7de4d1c


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