Poems of the Trenches

Noel Hodgson

Read these words and try to understand his thoughts. Can we even begin to comprehend the feelings of this young man as he sat in the mud and penned such an emotional verse?



Before Action.

By all the glories of the day and the cool evening’s benison
By that last sunset touch that lay upon the hills when day was done
By beauty lavishly outpoured and blessings carelessly received
By all the days that I have lived make me a soldier, Lord.

By all of all man’s hopes and fears, and all the wonders poets sing
The laughter of unclouded years, and every sad and lovely thing
By the romantic ages stored with high endeavour that was his
By all his mad catastrophes make me a man, O Lord.

I, that on my familiar hill saw with uncomprehending eyes
A hundred of thy sunsets spill their fresh and sanguine sacrifice
Ere the sun swings his noonday sword must say good-bye to all of this
By all delights that I shall miss, help me to die, O Lord.

Ironically, Hodgson's poem was published two days before he died in July 1916.
Hodgson died like so many others during the
Battle of the Somme.


Suicide In The Trenches

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.
In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Siegfried Sassoon

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