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.
Capt Siegfried Sassoon, Military Cross
Another of my favourites! Siegfried Sassoon is a war poet who writes about the futility of war. Here, in this poem, like in “Waiting for Godot“, Becket‘s Godot or Sassoon’s freedom and its associated happiness never comes! I feel that by ‘ freedom’ he means ‘freedom from strife’. Though we desire it, we are ultimately never free from war.
This poem was written by Sassoon just after the Armistice, the official end to World War I, was declared.
This diatribe against war comes from the words of a soldier who saw the futility of lives lost in the ‘danze macabre’ that was World War I. Unsuccessfully recommended for a Victoria Cross, Sassoon was an exceptionally brave and soldier and an effective leader of men.
The poem, like all good ones, is open to multiple interpretation.