A Poem to move one to tears.
This year, for Mother’s day, I received Poems that make Grown Women Cry. My daughter, knowing how much I enjoy reading and writing poetry, gave me this anthology; edited by Anthony and Ben Holden.
The collection includes masterpieces chosen and introduced by some of the world’s most eminent writers, actors, artists and academics. In addition to this list of famous and respected people are broadcasters and activists; making for a fascinating collection of poems.
Whilst I have enjoyed reading the whole collection, there was one in particular that really did make me cry.
Written by the English war poet, Siegfried Sassoon (1886 – 1967) this poem sends out a clear and painful message about a young soldier who died in the ‘hell we’ll never know’ in the First World War trenches.
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.
Simply writing down these few powerful words is enough for me to visualise the trauma these young men must have suffered in the hell we will never know. Driven to the point of taking their own life as a result of post-traumatic stress disorder; the families of these so-called cowards were made to feel ashamed. At that point in time, it was considered an act of treason to commit suicide in order to remove oneself from combat.
I find it so hard to believe that a parent was unable to grieve as they would have done, had their son died in combat. The words, ‘no one spoke of him again’ I find particularly sad. My sadness transforms into anger as Siegfried Sassoon delivers the final punch. ‘You smug-faced crowds.’