In July of 1917, mid-World War I, following a period of convalescent leave during which he had decided to make a stand by not returning to duty, celebrated poet Siegfried Sassoon sent the following open letter to his commanding officer and refused to return to the trenches.
On behalf of those who are suffering now, I make this protest against the deception which is being practised upon them; also I believe it may help to destroy the callous complacency with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share and which they have not enough imagination to realise.
An armchair in an Oxford library. I used to love spending Saturday afternoons in rooms like this.
The First World War Poetry Digital Archive is an online repository of over 7000 items of text, images, audio, and video for teaching, learning, and research.
Sassoon and Owen – names that found their niche
In literary history. Owen’s dead.
The other one survived the bullet which
Toward that War’s end just grazed him on the head.
Yes; his career continued. But of late,
His state of mind has made him wonder whether
Sassoon’s continuance was appropriate…
Should not these soldier poets have died together?
For thirty years a person of that name
Has done his level best to supplement
The scraps that opportunely earned him fame.
Yet literature’s cold chronicles resent
The existence of this ghost. He should have kept
Silence, and out in France forever slept.
Ian McMillan : Has poetry affected our view of world war one ?
My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.
Wilfred Edward Salter Owen MC (18 March 1893 – 4 November 1918) [x]
A drawing from Sassoon’s diary, summer 1916.