Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Tuesday Poem: Everyone Sang, by Siegfried Sassoon

I was a bit behind the ball this week, and hadn't organised any permissions for Tuesday Poem. I didn't have one of my own in mind either. That ruled out any living poets, any New Zealand poets who had died less than fifty years ago, any from most of the rest of the English-speaking world who died less than fifty years ago, and pretty much all of the non-English speaking world, since I have yet to find a translation that is not copyright (the translators having died less than seventy years ago).

I had in mind to post Siegfried Sassoon's poem Everyone Sang. Sassoon is one of the poets known for his First World War poems, and I assumed at first that he had died in the war, but I was wrong - he died in 1967.

This particular poem seems in some ways the opposite of a war poem. Instead of the horrors of war, it speaks of heightened joy.

Everyone suddenly burst out singing
And I was filled with such delight...

But I wonder if the intense feeling expressed is just the other side of the coin - if the capacity for intense joy and intense horror might go together. In fact the poem itself mentions that horror/drifted away. And a little research suggests that it was written in celebration of the Armistice.

It seems a good time to read a poem that celebrates the end of horror. (Click the link above to read the full poem). It's long been a favourite of mine, even without knowing its history. Here are the last lines of the poem, almost like a prayer:

and the song was wordless;
and the singing will never be done

More Tuesday Poems at the main hub site.


Jennifer Compton said...

i do love this poem but i can't seem to get through on the link

Catherine said...

I just checked it, it works for me - but if you google the name of the poet and the poem you will find it quite easily.