I knew a simple soldier boyThis poem was written by a soldier in the First World War, so it's likely to be an adaptation of a true event which Sassoon either witnessed or, more likely, heard about. The poem presents a rather angry attack on the "smug-faced" society which cheered the soldiers without actually going to war themselves. Sassoon partially blames these crowds for the death of the boy, which has condemned him to a "hell where youth and laughter go". Youth and laughter are both reasons to live, yet the boy feels he must take his own life to escape the "glum" trenches.
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.
Sunday, 4 November 2007
Posted by Al Frances at 09:10