The Linnet's Wings The Sorrow - Page 85

1918-2018 end, he thought the truth would out! History would examine the causes and outcomes of that war. The horror and suffering would be revealed and never be forgotten. He made sure Wilfred Owen was not forgotten. Of course Siegfried Sassoon was delighted that the war was over but he was also eager that Everyone should now be heard so he gave them all a voice in Everyone Sang. Out of the birdness, after all has been swept away, rises this poem, a symbol of peace, a beacon of freedom, a protest against futility. And yes, that war brought about sea-changes in society and in religion but 100 years on, I think there is still little criticism of the conduct of that war, the 'political errors' of which Sassoon wrote, nor acknowledgement of the pity of it. Four years ago a rash of programmes were aired about beginning of WW1 but since then they’ve all gone quiet. WW11 seems to have taken precedence. Best not to dwell on the futility and carnage, I suspect -- lest we remember. This was a politician's war and had nothing to do with the people who did the fighting and dying but the establishment always closes ranks to maintain power. One will always need people who are prepared to fight. In November this year all the so called great and good will show up, sombrely attired, at the cenotaph but with no apology on their lips for those who died unnecessarily and brutally one hundred years ago in a cause that was not their own. No anti-war poems will be read. There will be no thought for those who, for the rest of their lives, saw before their waking eyes, the dismembered and dead. Who will bend an ear for the silenced voices? Will there be sorrow for the spinsters and widows made or the unborn of a generation of craftsmen, doctors, artists and poets unmade? No. It will be a celebration of patriotic duty. And “The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est Pro patria mori” that Owen and Sassoon and many others so hated, will be perpetuated. The establishment is as it ever was, willing to sacrifice people to its own ends whilst we... we twitter, we tweet but do we sing? Siegfried Sassoon was fond of this poem that ‘came to him’ in April 1917. He read it out often. It came from a place inside him, deep as death. It sprang from a well of profound and long held melancholy and horror and it sang “through his clay”. How could it do otherwise? And if anyone reads it aloud this November, mistaking it for what it is not, it will be because Siegfried Sassoon was a clever man and a great poet and I will smile and say: Siegfried, this one’s for you. Oonah I would like to thank James Graham for his helpful comments and input to this editorial. I found “Siegfried Sassoon A BIOGRAPHY” Max Egremont (2005) Picador: ISBN 978-1-4472- 4328-1 very useful in providing background information for this essay. 85