HOW WILL WE FEEL WHEN ALL THIS ENDS?

How will we feel when this dark period of history is over? 

Will we, do you think, have learned anything from it?

Many people have referred to it as an unprecedented time. And of course it is.  On the other hand, all of us who have been born since the Second World War have been lucky. When you consider what our grandparents’ and parents’ generation went through in the First and Second World Wars one can’t help feeling that what we have had to put up with – aside of course from the thousands of tragic deaths – is an inconvenience. So what if we have had to stay indoors, wear masks, give up long awaited holidays and not get close to one another?  It seems to me that we really have very little to complain about.  And it hasn’t even been a year yet!

This is not, of course, to make light of the suffering many people have experienced in their mental health, the loss of loved ones, jobs and the dreadful effect to the economy and our way of life. But, for my generation who were born soon after the Second World War, to my mind this pandemic cannot compare to the trauma our parents’ generation experienced in the 1939-1945 war.

Children were separated from their parents. Sent away -“evacuated” – to live with strangers far from home. Thousands of people in our cities suffered the trauma of bombing – never knowing when it was their home that was going to be hit, their loved ones who were going to be killed.

My parents lived close to an aircraft factory which was a frequent target for bombs. If they couldn’t get to an air raid shelter, they would hide cowering with their small baby son in the larder cupboard under the stairs – not that that would have done them much good had a bomb fallen on their home.

I am also thinking not only of all those who were killed or maimed in the war but also of the suffering of the millions who were systematically murdered by the Nazis in concentration camps and elsewhere throughout the Occupation.

So, how will we feel when this dark period of history is behind us? Much, I think, as Siegfried Sassoon wrote in his poem, “Everyone Sang.” Sassoon was 28 at the start of the First World War.  He and his contemporaries witnessed death every single day. They experienced at first hand ‘rotting corpses and mangled limbs.’

As I wrote back in May, Sassoon is one of 16 poets of the 1914-1918 war commemorated in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey. The inscription on the stone was written by his friend and fellow war poet, Wilfred Owen. It reads: “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.”

Sassoon who had been decorated for his bravery on the Western Front, later became a passionate pacifist.

In 1919 at the end of the First World War, he wrote this poem.

EVERYONE SANG

Everyone suddenly burst out singing;

And I was filled with such delight

As prisoned birds must find in freedom

Winging wildly across the white

Orchards and dark green fields; on; on; and out of sight.

 

Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted,

And beauty came like the setting sun.

My heart was shaken with tears, and horror

Drifted away … O but every one

Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will

never be done.

 

Siegfried Sassoon, 1919 from Poems Newly Selected (1916-1935) Faber and Faber

 

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

POETRY FOR LOCKDOWN. DAY 63.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LESS IS MORE

 

I have to confess that in my advertising teaching days I was not exactly sure what people meant by this expression. But now I am blogging I have a much clearer idea!

Instead of boring you with umpteen words trying to fill up space, it is far better to give you one small sound bite.  So today, I am offering you one small gem of a poem. Written by Siegfried Sassoon, who although famous for his WW1 poetry, actually lived until 1967.  I wonder how many people think, as I used to do, that he died in the first world war?

Rather than attempt to summarise Sassoon’s life, I recommend you read the entry on him in Wikipedia.   He is one of 16 poets of the 1914-1918 war commemorated in Poets Corner, Westminster Abbey. The inscription on the stone was written by his friend and fellow War poet Wilfred Owen. It reads: “My subject is War, and the pity of War. The Poetry is in the pity.”

Sassoon who had been decorated for his bravery on the Western Front, later became a passionate pacifist. His life makes interesting reading, particularly his relationship with Wilfred Owen which was fictionalised in Pat Barker’s Booker prize-winning trilogy, Regeneration. His Times Obituary is notable by the absence of any mention of the homosexual relationships he is known to have had – but then these things were not talked about in 1967.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siegfried_Sassoon

https://www.theatrecloud.com/news/sassoon-and-owen-a-meeting-that-changed-the-course-of-literature

 

This poem is from a small volume of poetry, The Heart’s Journey:

 

‘When I’m alone’ –the words tripped off his tongue

As though to be alone were nothing strange.

‘When I was young,’ he said; ‘ when I was young   . . .’

 

I thought of age, and loneliness, and change.

I thought how strange we grow when we’re alone,

And how unlike the selves that meet, and talk,

And blow the candles out, and say good-night.

Alone . . .  The word is life endured and known.

It is the stillness where our spirits walk

And all but inmost faith is overthrown

Siegfried Sassoon, William Heinemann Ltd, 1931

 

Obituary from The Times

Siegfried Sassoon Image copyright Faber & Faber

© Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems

The Battle of Britain

Andrea Neidle, My Life in Poems