‘To One Who Was With Me in the War’ a poem for Veteran’s Day by Siegfried Sassoon

To One Who Was With Me in the War

It was too long ago – the Company which we served with…

We call it back in visual fragments, you and I,

Who seem, ourselves, like relics casually preserved with

Our mindfulness of old bombardments when the sky

With blundering din blinked cavernous,

Yet a sense of power

Invaded us when, recapturing an ungodly hour

Of ante-zero crisis, in one thought we’ve met

To stand in some redoubt of Time – to share again

All but the actual wetness of the flare-lit rain,

All but the living presences who haunt us yet

With gloom-patrolling eyes.

Remembering; we forget

Much that was monstrous, much that clogged our souls with clay

When hours were guides who led us by the longest way –

And when the worst had been endured could still disclose

Another worst to thwart us…

We forget our fear…

And, while the uncouth Event begins to lour less near.

Discern the mad magnificence whose storm-light throws

Wild shadows on these after-thoughts that sent your brain

Back beyond Peace, exploring sunken ruinous roads.

Your brain, with files of flitting forms hump-backed with loads,

On its own helmet hears the tinkling drops of rain, –

Follows to an end some night-relief, and strangely sees

The quiet no-man’s-land of daybreak, jagg’d with trees

That loom like giant Germans…

I’ll go with you then,

Since you must play this game of ghosts. At listening-posts

We’ll peer across dim craters: joke with jaded men

Whose names we’ve long forgotten. (Stoop low there; it’s the place

The sniper enfilades.) Round the next bay you’ll meet

A drenched platoon-commander; chilled he drums his feet

On squelching duck-boards; winds his wrist watch, turns his head,

And shows you how you looked – your ten- years-vanished face,

Hoping the War will end next week…

What’s that you said?

Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) from ‘first world war poems’ ed. Jane McMorland Hunter, 2014

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