Monday, November 8, 2021

Siegfried Sassoon

Siegfried Sassoon (1886―1967) is primarily known as a poet of WWI. Even so, he continued writing for the rest of his life, including the faith-inspired poetry of his latter years.

He shocked Britain when ― on July 30th, 1917 ― his editorial “A Soldier’s Declaration” was read in the British House of Commons, and the next day appeared in The London Times. Such a statement was enough to have him court-martialled or even shot ― but how do you execute a war hero who’d been decorated with the Military Cross, for voicing the much-supported opinion that by that time the war should be over? The alternative had him treated for shell shock at Craiglockhart War Hospital, which is where he first met Wilfred Owen.

Sassoon caused shockwaves in his personal life after the war ― having affairs with male writers, and then, suddenly in 1933, marrying high-society girl Hester Gatty, who was nineteen years younger than he was. Similarly, he caused a stir when he converted to Roman Catholicism in 1957.

This transition was spurred by an initial letter from Mother Margaret Mary McFarlin, superior of the Convent of the Assumption in Kensington Square, London, saying she discerned a “yearning for God” in his poetry. The two became close friends.

The following poem is from his book The Path to Peace (Stanbrook Abbey Press, 1960).


Eternal, to this momentary thing ―
This mind ― Thy sanctuary of stillness bring.
Within that unredeemed aliveness live:
And through Thy sorrowless sacrament forgive.
-------Let me be lost; and lose myself in Thee.
-------Let me be found and find my soul set free.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Amazon, and Wipf & Stock.