Sassoon wrote They" in 1916.
THE Bishop tells us: ‘When the boys come back
‘They will not be the same; for they’ll have fought
‘In a just cause: they lead the last attack
‘On Anti-Christ; their comrades’ blood has bought
‘New right to breed an honourable race,
‘They have challenged Death and dared him face to face.’
‘We’re none of us the same!’ the boys reply.
‘For George lost both his legs; and Bill’s stone blind;
‘Poor Jim’s shot through the lungs and like to die;
‘And Bert’s gone syphilitic: you’ll not find
‘A chap who’s served that hasn’t found some change.’
And the Bishop said: ‘The ways of God are strange!’
It reminds me a bit of a scene in All Quiet On The Western Front when the young soldier refuses to exalt and glorify war to young students and their teacher. There's the same bitter tone. though the schoolroom scene has less sarcasm.
Sassoon has an interesting comment on the poem
" . . . after a long evening, . . . I was so sleepy, I could hardly keep my eyes open, but the thing wrote itself. And Eddie Marsh, when I showed it ti him one wet morning sais "It's too horrible,'. As I was walking back I actually met 'the Bishop' (of London} and he turned a mild shining gaze on me. . . ."
Last edited by fantasyfan; 01-22-2013 at 08:16 AM.