One hundred years ago this November, World War I ended, but not before millions of young men died in what many historians consider the first conflict to take full advantage of improvements in mechanized warfare. But the human element had its say in this war, producing poets whose verse, reflecting the horror and trauma of trench and aerial warfare, defined a literary generation. One of the best known of these War Poets, Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) survived the war (unlike is close friend and fellow poet Wilfred Owen) but struggled to survive the peace. He could never forget the ordeal and spent his life writing poems and fiction about his experiences. Born in Kent, England, to a Jewish father and Anglican mother, Sassoon converted to Catholicism late in life. His poem “Aftermath” seems to anticipate in its own way what he was to later celebrate each November through his faith—the importance of remembering the dead and keeping their memory alive in prayer. In honor and to the memory of the 40 million casualties (20 million dead and 21 million wounded) of World War I, Adoremus presents Sassoon’s poem to our readers.
By Siegfried Sassoon