War poet: S. Sassoon

It was Sigfried Sasson (1886-1967) who first portraied the truth about the war. Born into an upper class family, he enlisted at the outbreak of the war and soon distinguished himself for his courage: he was wounded twice and was given the Military Cross in 1917. In his poems he carried out his protest against “the political errors and insincerities for which these fighting men are beimg sacrificed in various ways: in a sober documentary manner, by which he recreated the physical horror of the war.



You love us when we’re heroes, home on leave,



Or wounded in a mentionable place.

You worship decorations; you believe

That chivalry redeems the war’s disgrace.

You make us shells. You listen with delight,

By tales of dirt and danger fondly thrilled.

You crown our distant ardours while we fight,

And mourn our laurelled memories when we’re killed.

You can’t believe that British troops “retire”

When hell’s last horror breaks them, and they run,

Trampling the terrible corpses – blind with blood.

O German mother dreaming by the fire,

While you are knitting socks to send your son

His face is trodden deeper in the mud.

Translation:

voi ci amate quando siamo eroi, in licenza,

o feriti in un posto memorabile.

voi adorate le decorazioni; voi credete

che la lealtà riscatti le disgrazie della guerra.

voi ci fate le granate. voi ascoltate con piacere,

le storie di sporcizia e di pericolo ingenuamente eccitate.

voi  coronate i nostri ardori distanti mentre noi combattiamo,

e piangete le nostre memorie coronate d’alloro quando veniamo uccisi.

voi non potete credere che le truppe britanniche “si ritirino”

quando l’ultimo orrore infernale irrompe, e loro scappano,

calpestando i terribili cadaveri –accecati dal sangue.

O madre tedesca che sogna vicino al focolare,

mentre tu stai lavorando con i ferri le calze da mandare a tuo figlio

la sua faccia viene calpestata in fondo al fango
 

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