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Everyone Sang -- Siegfried Sassoon

Guest poem sent in by "Dave, Hash"
(Poem #1030) Everyone Sang
 Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
 And I was filled with such delight
 As prisoned birds must find in freedom,
 Winging wildly across the white
 Orchards and dark-green fields; on - on - and out of sight.

 Everyone's voice was suddenly lifted;
 And beauty came like the setting sun:
 My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
 Drifted away ... O, but Everyone
 Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.
-- Siegfried Sassoon
      April 1919

The poem speaks to me of a deeper, underlying reality - the closing lines
bring that into focus for me. Given what I know of Sassoon's war-service in
France during WW1 (he was a contemporary of Wilfred Owen) I'm torn between
deciding what drove him to write it - was it the idea of a dying serviceman
surrounded by the horror of war who hears a song, as if birds flying out of
sight, and the horror drops away as he realises the song never ends? Or was
it his love of nature, the wider, realer world that he saw as he wrote this
poem - realer and more deep than the man-made hell that he had witnessed and
fought in?

The one thing the poem has without a doubt - hope. The song will never end.

Hash

Links:

  Biography of Sassoon: http://www.sassoonery.demon.co.uk/

  Sassoon poems on Minstrels:
     Poem #385, Base Details
     Poem # 535, The Working Party

58 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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Having taught the film "Shawshank Redemption" to my senior 15-16 year old English students, I was gobsmacked (awestruck?) by how this poem spoke to the movie..it seemed maade for it. The poem and the movie share an enlightened vision of hope. The enlightment that comes when a human spirit is pressed to supernatural breaking point and the spirit almost leaves its earthly plane as a blissful release from pain..an experience many have had. Think for a moment of the euphoria marathon runners experience that enables them to endure their self inflicted extreme bodily duress.
Even in a trench a man's spirit can soar and be free of human crassness and cruelty. It may take the pure note of a bird song to set the spirit winging, or the high sweet note of a Diva in "the marriage of Figaro", which Andy plays on the loudspeaker to all the enraptured male prisoners, in sublime disregard for the prison pig wardens and guards."In that moment I knew that every last man in Shawshank was free".. " Hope is a good thing, the best of things, and a good thing never dies"..as Andy and Red say in the film.."the singing will never be done" as Siegfried says through the battle worn hero of his poem.

Or in KEATS famous words:

"Beauty is truth
truth is beauty
that is all ye know on earth
and all ye need to know" which hopefully I have not misquoted

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