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Base Details

  • If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
  • I’d live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
  • And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
  • You’d see me with my puffy petulant face,
  • Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
  • Reading the Roll of Honour. ‘Poor young-chap,’
  • I’d say — ‘I used to know his father well;
  • Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.’
  • And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
  • I’d toddle safely home and die — in bed.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967) is an important British poet and memoirist. The bitterness of “Base Details,” published in his collection Counter-Attack and Other Poems in 1918, reflects Sassoon’s disillusionment with the First World War, for which he had originally volunteered. Famous for his bravery in battle, Sassoon was nicknamed “Mad Jack” by the men of the company he commanded. But in 1917, having seen war’s horrors, having mourned the death of a dear friend who had been killed in battle, and having realized that Great Britain was not an innocent victim but was instead fighting a war of aggression and conquest, Sassoon declined to return to duty at the end of a convalescent leave. Encouraged by pacifist friends such as the philosopher Bertrand Russell, he sent a letter to his commanding officer entitled Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration. Forwarded to the press and read out in Parliament, his statement declared: “I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority.” After the war, Sassoon became literary editor of the socialist Daily Herald and eventually published highly acclaimed fictionalized memoirs, two volumes of genuine autobiography, and a novel, as well as a good deal of distinguished poetry.

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  • If I were fierce, and bald, and short of breath,
  • I’d live with scarlet Majors at the Base,
  • And speed glum heroes up the line to death.
  • You’d see me with my puffy petulant face,
  • Guzzling and gulping in the best hotel,
  • Reading the Roll of Honour. ‘Poor young-chap,’
  • I’d say — ‘I used to know his father well;
  • Yes, we’ve lost heavily in this last scrap.’
  • And when the war is done and youth stone dead,
  • I’d toddle safely home and die — in bed.

Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967) is an important British poet and memoirist. The bitterness of “Base Details,” published in his collection Counter-Attack and Other Poems in 1918, reflects Sassoon’s disillusionment with the First World War, for which he had originally volunteered. Famous for his bravery in battle, Sassoon was nicknamed “Mad Jack” by the men of the company he commanded. But in 1917, having seen war’s horrors, having mourned the death of a dear friend who had been killed in battle, and having realized that Great Britain was not an innocent victim but was instead fighting a war of aggression and conquest, Sassoon declined to return to duty at the end of a convalescent leave. Encouraged by pacifist friends such as the philosopher Bertrand Russell, he sent a letter to his commanding officer entitled Finished with the War: A Soldier’s Declaration. Forwarded to the press and read out in Parliament, his statement declared: “I am making this statement as an act of willful defiance of military authority.” After the war, Sassoon became literary editor of the socialist Daily Herald and eventually published highly acclaimed fictionalized memoirs, two volumes of genuine autobiography, and a novel, as well as a good deal of distinguished poetry.

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Thanks for the poetry.

May 1, 2014

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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