Best Defense

Soldier poets of the Great War: Hodgson’s nobility vs. Sassoon’s realism

Soldier poets of the Great War: Hodgson’s nobility vs. Sassoon’s realism

During the summer, the Best Defense is in re-runs. Here are some favorites that ran in late 2012 and in 2013. This item originally ran on Feb. 26, 2013.

William Noel Hodgson prayed ambivalently in his poem “Before Action”:

By all delights that I shall miss,

Help me to die, O Lord.

At about the same time, Siegfried Sassoon’s thoughts were running colder as he marched past a corps commander:

‘Eyes right!’ The corpse-commander was a Mute;

And Death leered round him, taking our salute.