Udtalelse imod fortsættelsen af krigen - 1917

Jeg fremsætter denne udtalelse i bevidst trods mod militær autoritet, fordi jeg mener, at krigen med fortsæt bliver forlænget af dem, som har magt til at stoppe den.

Jeg er soldat og overbevist om, at jeg handler på vegne af andre soldater. Jeg mener, at denne krig, som jeg gik ind i, fordi den var en forsvars- og befrielseskrig, nu er blevet en aggressions- og erobringskrig. Jeg mener, at de formål, med hvilke jeg og mine soldaterkammerater gik ind i krigen, skulle have været så klart formuleret, at det ville have været umuligt at ændre dem, og at, skulle dette være sket, målene, som tilskyndede os, nu ville være opnåelige ved forhandling.

Jeg har set og udholdt troppernes lidelser, og jeg kan ikke længere være med til at forlænge disse lidelser af grunde, som jeg mener er onde og uretfærdige.

Jeg protesterer ikke imod krigsførelsen men mod de politiske fejltagelser og det hykleri, for hvilke soldaterne ofres.

Jeg protesterer på vegne af dem, som lider nu, imod det bedrag, de udsættes for; jeg mener også, at jeg kan være med til at ødelægge den afstumpede selvtilfredshed med hvilken flertallet herhjemme betragter fortsættelsen af den smerte, som de ikke er med til at dele, og som de ikke har tilstrækkelig fantasi til at forstå.

Siegfried L. Sassoon. July 1917

(Uautoriseret oversættelse: Webmaster)

Statement against the continuation of the War - 1917

I am making this statement as an act of wilful defiance of military authority, because I believe that the war is being deliberately prolonged by those who have the power to end it.

I am a soldier, convinced that I am acting on behalf of soldiers. I believe that this war, upon which I entered as a war of defence and liberation, has now become a war of aggression and conquest. I believe that the purposes for which I and my fellow-soldiers entered upon this war should have been so clearly stated as to have made it impossible to change them, and that, had this been done, the objects which actuated us would now be attainable by negotiation.

I have seen and endured the sufferings of the troops, and I can no longer be a party to prolong these sufferings for ends which I believe to be evil and unjust.

I am not protesting against the conduct of the war, but against the political errors and insincerities for which the fighting men are being sacrificed.

On behalf of those who are suffering now I make this protest against the deception which is being practiced on them; also I believe that I may help to destroy the callous complacence with which the majority of those at home regard the continuance of agonies which they do not share, and which they have not sufficient imagination to realize.

Siegfried L. Sassoon. July 1917

How to Die

DARK clouds are smouldering into red
While down the craters morning burns.
The dying soldier shifts his head
To watch the glory that returns;
He lifts his fingers toward the skies
Where holy brightness breaks in flame;
Radiance reflected in his eyes,
And on his lips a whispered name.
You'd think, to hear some people talk,
That lads go West with sobs and curses,
And sullen faces white as chalk,
Hankering for wreaths and tombs and hearses.
But they've been taught the way to do it
Like Christian soldiers; not with haste
And shuddering groans; but passing through it
With due regard for decent taste.



SOLDIERS are citizens of death’s grey land,
Drawing no dividend from time’s to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
They think of firelit homes, clean beds and wives.
I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
And going to the office in the train.


The General

‘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.


Does it Matter?

DOES it matter?—losing your legs? . . .
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When the others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.

Does it matter?—losing your sight? . . .
There’s such splendid work for the blind;
And people will always be kind,
As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light.

Do they matter?—those dreams from the pit? . . .
You can drink and forget and be glad,
And people won’t say that you’re mad;
For they’ll know you’ve fought for your country
And no one will worry a bit.



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!’

Copyright N/A
Reproduced here under educational Fair Use laws

Counter-Attack. World War One Literature

Virtual Seminars for Teaching Literature: Siegfried Sassoon