Siegfried Sassoon

(1886 - 1967 / Kent / England)

A Working Party


Three hours ago he blundered up the trench,
Sliding and poising, groping with his boots;
Sometimes he tripped and lurched against the walls
With hands that pawed the sodden bags of chalk.
He couldn't see the man who walked in front;
Only he heard the drum and rattle of feet
Stepping along barred trench boards, often splashing
Wretchedly where the sludge was ankle-deep.

Voices would grunt `Keep to your right -- make way!'
When squeezing past some men from the front-line:
White faces peered, puffing a point of red;
Candles and braziers glinted through the chinks
And curtain-flaps of dug-outs; then the gloom
Swallowed his sense of sight; he stooped and swore
Because a sagging wire had caught his neck.

A flare went up; the shining whiteness spread
And flickered upward, showing nimble rats
And mounds of glimmering sand-bags, bleached with rain;
Then the slow silver moment died in dark.
The wind came posting by with chilly gusts
And buffeting at the corners, piping thin.
And dreary through the crannies; rifle-shots
Would split and crack and sing along the night,
And shells came calmly through the drizzling air
To burst with hollow bang below the hill.

Three hours ago, he stumbled up the trench;
Now he will never walk that road again:
He must be carried back, a jolting lump
Beyond all needs of tenderness and care.

He was a young man with a meagre wife
And two small children in a Midland town,
He showed their photographs to all his mates,
And they considered him a decent chap
Who did his work and hadn't much to say,
And always laughed at other people's jokes
Because he hadn't any of his own.

That night when he was busy at his job
Of piling bags along the parapet,
He thought how slow time went, stamping his feet
And blowing on his fingers, pinched with cold.
He thought of getting back by half-past twelve,
And tot of rum to send him warm to sleep
In draughty dug-out frowsty with the fumes
Of coke, and full of snoring weary men.

He pushed another bag along the top,
Craning his body outward; then a flare
Gave one white glimpse of No Man's Land and wire;
And as he dropped his head the instant split
His startled life with lead, and all went out.

Submitted: Thursday, January 01, 2004

Do you like this poem?
2 person liked.
0 person did not like.

What do you think this poem is about?



Read poems about / on: silver, sometimes, work, children, rain, red, sleep, people, wind, night, dark, child

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Comments about this poem (A Working Party by Siegfried Sassoon )

Enter the verification code :

Read all 2 comments »

PoemHunter.com Updates

New Poems

  1. Apparition of the Virgin, Ron Slate
  2. Granite City, Ron Slate
  3. General Sweeney Dies at 84, Ron Slate
  4. Respect the truth, men, gajanan mishra
  5. Respect truth, gajanan mishra
  6. Reunion, Ron Slate
  7. Save Your Questions, David Griebel
  8. Comfort, Alexandra Motschmann
  9. ISIS and Anti-terror victory, Alexandra Motschmann
  10. Strange Coincidence, Khairul Ahsan

Poem of the Day

poet Charles Stuart Calverley

He stood, a worn-out City clerk —
Who'd toil'd, and seen no holiday,
For forty years from dawn to dark —
Alone beside Caermarthen Bay.
...... Read complete »

   

Trending Poems

  1. The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
  2. On the Pulse of Morning, Maya Angelou
  3. Daffodils, William Wordsworth
  4. Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
  5. Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
  6. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
  7. If, Rudyard Kipling
  8. Invictus, William Ernest Henley
  9. A Song of Enchantment, Walter de la Mare
  10. Some One, Walter de la Mare

Trending Poets

[Hata Bildir]