Poet Profile: Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)

Sassoon letter
From ‘Finished With The War: A Soldier’s Declaration’, written in 1917, which Sassoon first sent to his commanding officer. It was subsequently forwarded to the press, then read aloud in Parliament by a sympathetic politician.

Often considered to be second only to Wilfred Owen among the great poets of the First World War, Sassoon’s work stands out for two things in particular: first, for the open way in which he attacks those he considers responsible for the war – military command, politicians, bishops and so on – and secondly because he was one of the relatively few poets who survived the War and continued to write thereafter, branching out into prose with his fictionalised three-part autobiography which began with Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man, published in 1928. Continue reading “Poet Profile: Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967)”

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Poet Profile: Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)

Then, when the clouds are off the soul,
When thou dost bask in Nature’s eye,
Ask, how she view’d thy self-control,
Thy struggling task’d morality…

…‘Ah child,’ she cries, ‘that strife divine –
Whence was it, for it is not mine?’…

…’I saw it in some other place.
– T’was when the heavenly house I trod.
And lay upon the breast of God.’

– Matthew Arnold, Morality

Largely forgotten today, Matthew Arnold was once hailed with Tennyson and Browning as one of the great Victorian poets. Continue reading “Poet Profile: Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)”

Poet Profile: Gerard Manley Hopkins

I did say yes
O at lightning and lashed rod;
Thou heardst me truer than tongue confess
Thy terror, O Christ, O God;
Thou knowst the walls, altar and hour and night:
The swoon of a heart that the sweep and the hurl of thee trod
Hard down with a horror of height:
And the midriff astrain with leaning of,
laced with fire of stress…

With a mercy that outrides
The all of water, an ark
For the listener; for the lingerer with a love glides
Lower than death and the dark;
A vein for the visiting of the past-prayer, pent in prison,
The-last-breath penitent spirits – the uttermost mark
Our passion-plunged giant risen,
The Christ of the Father compassionate,
Fetched in the storm of his strides…

(Excerpt from Hopkins, ‘The Wreck of the Deutschland’)

Continue reading “Poet Profile: Gerard Manley Hopkins”