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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Poem of the Week: “‘When you see millions of the mouthless dead’” by Charles Hamilton Sorley

‘When you see millions of the mouthless dead’ by Charles Hamilton Sorley

When you see millions of the mouthless dead
Across your dreams in pale battalions go,
Say not soft things as other men have said,
That you'll remember. For you need not so.
Give them not praise. For, deaf, how should they know
It is not curses heaped on each gashed head?
Nor tears. Their blind eyes see not your tears flow.
Nor honour. It is easy to be dead.
Say only this, "They are dead." Then add thereto,
"Yet many a better one has died before."
Then, scanning all the o'ercrowded mass, should you
Perceive one face that you loved heretofore,
It is a spook. None wears the face you knew.
Great death has made all his for evermore.

Charles Hamilton Sorley is not a well-known poet out of World War I, but he was considered very influential to other WWI poets like Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Own. Sorley was one of the first to show what life was really like in the trenches instead of the romanticizing that was going on when the war first started. The chilling thing about this poem is that it was found on his person when he was killed in 1915.

Charles Hamilton Sorley on wikipedia

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