The Best Defense

Soldier poets of the Great War (V): Hodgson's nobility vs. Sassoon's realism

William Noel Hodgson prayed ambivalently in his poem "Before Action":

By all delights that I shall miss,

Help me to die, O Lord.

At about the same time, Siegfried Sassoon's thoughts were running colder as he marched past a corps commander:

‘Eyes right!' The corpse-commander was a Mute;

And Death leered round him, taking our salute.



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