Poetry on War

There’s something so disturbing, yet divine about death, devastation, and destruction.

If that makes me an evil an twisted sadist, so be it. I’m addicted to war poetry. And in a world that’s addicted to war itself, that’s saying something.

Anything about young soldiers dying before their time, having their lives sucked out through their rifles, and soul-less bodies strewn across no man’s land, is so powerful that it makes me crave more and more. It’s pain, but it’s gratifying. It’s sorrow, but it’s a lesson. It’s proof of what we, as a breed, are capable of, of what I could do to my neighbour if I wanted to.

It’s scary to read Sassoon, Owen, and Tennyson. It’s scary that mere words on paper can bring to life the worst acts of terror we inflict upon this world.

And it’s amusing how even after pulling so many meaningful lives apart, we’re still willing to walk the same path. Every time we raise a weapon, every time we declare war on war, every day since the first boy was killed in action, we’ve been doing the same, wishing for a different outcome.

And even if we do get a different outcome, does it make a difference to the soldiers dreaming of firelit homes and clean beds?

Alas. Thus is the way of the world.


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.

— Siegfried Sassoon


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