You bragged how once your men In savage mood,
Butchered some Saxon prisoners.
That was good!
I trust you felt no pity when they stood
Patient and cowed and scared, as
How did you kill them?
Speak and don't be shy:
You know I love to hear how Germans die,
Downstairs in dug-outs. "Camerad!" they cry;
And squeal like stoats when bombs
begin to fly.
I’m proud of you.
Perhaps you’ll feel as brave alone in no man’s land
when none can save or shield you
From the horror of the night
There’s blood upon your hands.
Go out and fight.
I hope those Huns will haunt you with their screams
And make you gulp their blood
in ghoulish dreams
You’re great at murder.
Tell me, can you fight?
|Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)|
And here is Samuel West reading the poem.
This poem was censored and was known by a much tamer version for a long time. I ran across it when Harry Brighouse linked it on Crooked Timber.