Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Hell Where Youth And Laughter Go

It is ninety years since the end of World War I. The television on my desk is showing scenes of the Armistice Day Parade in London. The newspapers are full of special supplements marking the event. Siegfried Sassoon wrote the following poem in 1918. Reproducing it here is probably in contravention of half a dozen copyright laws. But it is my contribution to Armistice Day.
Suicide in the Trenches
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.

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