Secondary Sources and some Additional Primary

Siegfried Sassoon Diaries

Rupert Hart-Davis

This short article gives a quick overview of Sassoon’s diary accounts. Rupert wants to show that the diaries reveal much about Sassoon’s character and that “what emerges is the desire for self-fulfillment, the growth of independence of mind and the search for a specific identity both as man and poet. It is for their introspective qualities that the diaries should be read with the greatest attention, for these years were crucial to Sassoon’s development” (263). Rupert’s summary of Sassoon’s diary guides our reading and encourages us to be alert for the writer’s personal reactions to the experience of war. It also helps us look out for those contrasts between nature and depictions of rural setting versus “the stark horrors experienced by those involved with the fighting” (263). In short, Rupert points out that Sassoon both heightens the image of nature and retells accurate scenes of trench warfare.

Hart-Davis, Rupert. “Siegfried Sassoon Diaries.” Ed. Christopher Lloyd. The Review of English         Studies 35.1 (n.d.): 263-64. Oxford University Press. Web. May 1984.     <http://www.jstor.org/stable/516200>.

 

 

Siegfried Sassoon diaries, 1915-1918

Siegfried Sassoon

From January 3, 1916 to November 11, 1918, Sassoon’s diary entries follow his experiences as a soldier in the army. He travels around much of France, is in England for some time, and also crosses over to Germany. He writes his entries much in the fashion that Cluasson describes trench verse: it builds on the pastoral scenes of Romanticism but also leads the reader to scenes of destruction. For example, one of Sassoon’s early entries casually talks about an attack on Le Quesnoy before lunch:

“Beautiful country—sat on edge of wood, under beech and cypress trees, looking across a valley of ploughland to grassy hills crowned with long dark lines of pine-covert—like a picture by Wilson Steer—a faint golden light over all, austere, and yet delicate in tone and outline…And we can hear the big guns booming fifty kilometers away, and Armageddon is still going on” (25-26).

Sassoon also used his diary to write short poems and stories. In these he depicts war scenes or disillusionment with the war: “He [unidentified main character, potentially the writer himself] doesn’t know for what he is making the sacrifice; he has no passion for England, except as a place of pleasant landscapes and comfortable towns. He despises the English point of view and British complacency” (137).

Sassoon, Siegfried. Siegfried Sassoon diaries, 1915-1918. Faber and Faber Limited, London, 1983. Print.    –Primary Source

 

 

 

The Georgian Poetic

Myron Simon

 

Thesis: “Although widely dispersed and variously occupied, [Georgian writers] were all possessed by a desire to report experience faithfully; they were all unwilling to subordinate poetry to any other purpose. Their liberal, independent spirit was fully evident in their unconcern for authority. Their general orientation did not incline them to dwell upon the achievement of a group discipline, to formulate a manifesto (126).”

-Myron Simon argues that Georgians sought to depict realism in their poetry and they were unwilling to submit to conventional principles.

 

There are two Georgian movements that he identifies in his article, the first refers to the time of King George V, and the second to writers who wanted to refurbish early twentieth-century literature. Our research is interested in the latter as Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, both contributors to the first issue of The Owl, fit into the Georgian category. The earliest contributors to Georgian poetry attended Cambridge together or were somehow connected to the circle. The two leading figures of the movement were Rupert Brooke and Edward Marsh. As a whole, they believed that art should represent the “intensity” and “accuracy” of reality (125). The founders of the movement were agnostic, liberal and anti-Victorian. They believed the Victorian verse was too ornate, religious, and sensual (127).

Modernist groups and Georgians were at one point united against the Victorian verse and once they achieved to break from that tradition, they too suffered a split. The two did not agree on whether or not they should correct English traditional verse of begin with new standards. Modernists believed that the new modern world was so unprecedented that it called for new artistic traditions. The Georgians recognized a new reality but “did not find it absolutely or sufficiently pervasive ton constitute a severe discontinuity with the past” (128). They did not need a Manifesto to agree on that they were hostile to free verse, and they focused on not catering to conventionalized taste, and to mastering craftsmanship and form in their writing. Being clear in what their literary technique looked like, in the early 20th century they presented an alternative to the tradition of Victorianism, and the radicalism of Modernism.

 

Simon, Myron. “The Georgian Poetic.” The Bulletin of the Midwest Modern Language Association 2.1         Midwest Modern Language Association (1969): 121-35. JSTOR. Web.             <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1314743>.

 

 

 

“Perpetuating the Language”: Romantic Tradition, the Genre Function, and the Origins of Trench Lyric

Nils Clausson

Thesis: “To write a trench lyric, it is not enough to have experienced the reality of trench warfare: one must, like Lewis’s sonneteer, be enamoured of the poetic for, the genre, that one must imitate in order to say anything poetic about one’s experience (106)…In order to write about their individual experience of modern warfare, the War poets adapted and renewed a traditional genre, the Romantic nature lyric, and thereby crated the modern genre of the trench lyric (126).”

 

Clausson argues that war experience is not enough to write war poetry and that the writer must follow a poetic tradition in order to make the writing poetic. The main focus of his article is also that genres are important because War poets built on the Romantic tradition to develop a new trench lyric.  He begins by explaining that when World War I broke out, there was no tradition of war poetry and the only tools that writers had were the pre-existent conventions which he calls “codes” (106). He believes that War poets like Siegfried Sassoon were able to produce good poetry when they began to represent the war realistically.

 

Clausson examines the early “codes” that soldier-poets built upon. For example, Rupert Brooke’s who was a leading contributor of the Georgian movement, modeled Milton’s poetic war model. The last was patriotic and heroic, and ultimately unrealistic. Clausson also analyses poems by soldier-poets like Robert Coulson’s “From the Somme.” In this last poem, Clausson points out that Coulson uses traditional Victorian descriptions of nature and “pastoral pleasures” (108). Coulson also hints at some of the horror of the battle, but does not fully express himself as if “his thoughts [were] too deep for language to express” (108). Clausson on the other hand, believes that Coulson was inarticulate because he had no earlier tradition of war poetry to emulate.

 

Next, Clausson looks at early examples of what came to be the trench lyric. Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above the Tintern Abbey” is an example of a “greater Romantic lyric” (which Clausson uses to qualify what would become trench lyric inspired by Romanticism), which depicts a speaker in a natural landscape, when a special element of nature “arrests” his attention and the narrator proceeds to reflect on the experience. Trench poetry drew from this Romantic model, but incorporated its own traditions. For one, Siegfried Sassoon turned to using 18th century epigraph and satire. Trench poetry was also more realistic, and Clausson claims that “when war itself does become the focus of the war poem, a new genre, he trench lyric, emerges (115).” He uses Maurice Baring’s poem “August, 1918 (In a French Village)”, as an example. The poem “leads the read to—no away from—the thousands of imminent deaths” (116).  Clausson believes that trench poetry also removed the reflective content of Romanticism, while leaving the description.

 

This analysis of the origins of trench poetry is important because Clausson ties if back to Georgian movements with two quotes by Samuel Hynes and Margot Norris. These critics believed that “The principal war poets allied themselves not with the avant-garde of Eliot and Pound and Imagism, but with the Georgians” (Hynes 125), and again that instead of running to the avant-garde, they “retreated […] to the pastoralism of Georgian poetry for their forms” (Norris 125).

 

 

Clausson’s conclusion is that trench lyric evolved from the Romantic nature lyric but reinvigorated this tradition by implementing its own elements like higher realism, and a deeper focus on the actual war experience.

 

 

Clausson, Nils. “”Perpetuating the Language”: Romantic Tradition, the Genre Function, and the Origins        of Trench Lyric.” Journal of Modern Literature 30.1. Indiana University Press. (2006): 104-    28.JSTOR. Web.

 

 

Siegfried Sassoon Diaries

Rupert Hart-Davis

This short article gives a quick overview of Sassoon’s diary accounts. Rupert wants to show that the diaries reveal much about Sassoon’s character and that “what emerges is the desire for self-fulfillment, the growth of independence of mind and the search for a specific identity both as man and poet. It is for their introspective qualities that the diaries should be read with the greatest attention, for these years were crucial to Sassoon’s development” (263). Rupert’s summary of Sassoon’s diary guides our reading and encourages us to be alert for the writer’s personal reactions to the experience of war. It also helps us look out for those contrasts between nature and depictions of rural setting versus “the stark horrors experienced by those involved with the fighting” (263). In short, Rupert points out that Sassoon both heightens the image of nature and retells accurate scenes of trench warfare.

Hart-Davis, Rupert. “Siegfried Sassoon Diaries.” Ed. Christopher Lloyd. The Review of English         Studies 35.1 (n.d.): 263-64. Oxford University Press. Web. May 1984.     <http://www.jstor.org/stable/516200>.

 

 

Siegfried Sassoon diaries, 1915-1918

Siegfried Sassoon

From January 3, 1916 to November 11, 1918, Sassoon’s diary entries follow his experiences as a soldier in the army. He travels around much of France, is in England for some time, and also crosses over to Germany. He writes his entries much in the fashion that Cluasson describes trench verse: it builds on the pastoral scenes of Romanticism but also leads the reader to scenes of destruction. For example, one of Sassoon’s early entries casually talks about an attack on Le Quesnoy before lunch:

“Beautiful country—sat on edge of wood, under beech and cypress trees, looking across a valley of ploughland to grassy hills crowned with long dark lines of pine-covert—like a picture by Wilson Steer—a faint golden light over all, austere, and yet delicate in tone and outline…And we can hear the big guns booming fifty kilometers away, and Armageddon is still going on” (25-26).

Sassoon also used his diary to write short poems and stories. In these he depicts war scenes or disillusionment with the war: “He [unidentified main character, potentially the writer himself] doesn’t know for what he is making the sacrifice; he has no passion for England, except as a place of pleasant landscapes and comfortable towns. He despises the English point of view and British complacency” (137).

Sassoon, Siegfried. Siegfried Sassoon diaries, 1915-1918. Faber and Faber Limited, London, 1983. Print.    –Primary Source

 

 

 

The Georgian Poetic

Myron Simon

 

Thesis: “Although widely dispersed and variously occupied, [Georgian writers] were all possessed by a desire to report experience faithfully; they were all unwilling to subordinate poetry to any other purpose. Their liberal, independent spirit was fully evident in their unconcern for authority. Their general orientation did not incline them to dwell upon the achievement of a group discipline, to formulate a manifesto (126).”

-Myron Simon argues that Georgians sought to depict realism in their poetry and they were unwilling to submit to conventional principles.

 

There are two Georgian movements that he identifies in his article, the first refers to the time of King George V, and the second to writers who wanted to refurbish early twentieth-century literature. Our research is interested in the latter as Robert Graves and Siegfried Sassoon, both contributors to the first issue of The Owl, fit into the Georgian category. The earliest contributors to Georgian poetry attended Cambridge together or were somehow connected to the circle. The two leading figures of the movement were Rupert Brooke and Edward Marsh. As a whole, they believed that art should represent the “intensity” and “accuracy” of reality (125). The founders of the movement were agnostic, liberal and anti-Victorian. They believed the Victorian verse was too ornate, religious, and sensual (127).

Modernist groups and Georgians were at one point united against the Victorian verse and once they achieved to break from that tradition, they too suffered a split. The two did not agree on whether or not they should correct English traditional verse of begin with new standards. Modernists believed that the new modern world was so unprecedented that it called for new artistic traditions. The Georgians recognized a new reality but “did not find it absolutely or sufficiently pervasive ton constitute a severe discontinuity with the past” (128). They did not need a Manifesto to agree on that they were hostile to free verse, and they focused on not catering to conventionalized taste, and to mastering craftsmanship and form in their writing. Being clear in what their literary technique looked like, in the early 20th century they presented an alternative to the tradition of Victorianism, and the radicalism of Modernism.

 

Simon, Myron. “The Georgian Poetic.” The Bulletin of the Midwest Modern Language Association 2.1         Midwest Modern Language Association (1969): 121-35. JSTOR. Web.             <http://www.jstor.org/stable/1314743>.

 

 

 

“Perpetuating the Language”: Romantic Tradition, the Genre Function, and the Origins of Trench Lyric

Nils Clausson

 

Thesis: “To write a trench lyric, it is not enough to have experienced the reality of trench warfare: one must, like Lewis’s sonneteer, be enamoured of the poetic for, the genre, that one must imitate in order to say anything poetic about one’s experience (106)…In order to write about their individual experience of modern warfare, the War poets adapted and renewed a traditional genre, the Romantic nature lyric, and thereby crated the modern genre of the trench lyric (126).”

 

Clausson argues that war experience is not enough to write war poetry and that the writer must follow a poetic tradition in order to make the writing poetic. The main focus of his article is also that genres are important because War poets built on the Romantic tradition to develop a new trench lyric.  He begins by explaining that when World War I broke out, there was no tradition of war poetry and the only tools that writers had were the pre-existent conventions which he calls “codes” (106). He believes that War poets like Siegfried Sassoon were able to produce good poetry when they began to represent the war realistically.

 

Clausson examines the early “codes” that soldier-poets built upon. For example, Rupert Brooke’s who was a leading contributor of the Georgian movement, modeled Milton’s poetic war model. The last was patriotic and heroic, and ultimately unrealistic. Clausson also analyses poems by soldier-poets like Robert Coulson’s “From the Somme.” In this last poem, Clausson points out that Coulson uses traditional Victorian descriptions of nature and “pastoral pleasures” (108). Coulson also hints at some of the horror of the battle, but does not fully express himself as if “his thoughts [were] too deep for language to express” (108). Clausson on the other hand, believes that Coulson was inarticulate because he had no earlier tradition of war poetry to emulate.

 

Next, Clausson looks at early examples of what came to be the trench lyric. Wordsworth’s “Lines Composed a Few Miles Above the Tintern Abbey” is an example of a “greater Romantic lyric” (which Clausson uses to qualify what would become trench lyric inspired by Romanticism), which depicts a speaker in a natural landscape, when a special element of nature “arrests” his attention and the narrator proceeds to reflect on the experience. Trench poetry drew from this Romantic model, but incorporated its own traditions. For one, Siegfried Sassoon turned to using 18th century epigraph and satire. Trench poetry was also more realistic, and Clausson claims that “when war itself does become the focus of the war poem, a new genre, he trench lyric, emerges (115).” He uses Maurice Baring’s poem “August, 1918 (In a French Village)”, as an example. The poem “leads the read to—no away from—the thousands of imminent deaths” (116).  Clausson believes that trench poetry also removed the reflective content of Romanticism, while leaving the description.

 

This analysis of the origins of trench poetry is important because Clausson ties if back to Georgian movements with two quotes by Samuel Hynes and Margot Norris. These critics believed that “The principal war poets allied themselves not with the avant-garde of Eliot and Pound and Imagism, but with the Georgians” (Hynes 125), and again that instead of running to the avant-garde, they “retreated […] to the pastoralism of Georgian poetry for their forms” (Norris 125).

 

 

Clausson’s conclusion is that trench lyric evolved from the Romantic nature lyric but reinvigorated this tradition by implementing its own elements like higher realism, and a deeper focus on the actual war experience.

 

 

Clausson, Nils. “”Perpetuating the Language”: Romantic Tradition, the Genre Function, and the Origins        of Trench Lyric.” Journal of Modern Literature 30.1. Indiana University Press. (2006): 104-    28.JSTOR. Web.

 

 

 

Legitimate Criticism of Poetry 

Robert Graves

I looked at the chapter “Legitimate Criticism of Poetry” because Graves’s definition of poetry puts him in line with Georgians. He believes that poetry is “more than words musically arranged. It is sense; good sense; penetrating, often heart-rending sense” (202). He also has a problem with poets who lose their creativity because they worry more about the critical discussion that they can ignite from their poetry. He is also hostile to the idea of “careerism” or advancing the writer’s reputation by writing for “other than poetic reasons” (219). He believes a poem must be an end in and of itself, having no other motive- philosophical, political, or theological (219). Ironically, although he identifies with the Georgians in that poetry should have from and make sense, and should have no alternative motive, in the battle of free verse versus metred verse, Graves claims that “the Georgians who won the literary prizes were a pretty dull lot.” Thus, it would be interesting to determine an exact definition for the Georgian tradition.

Graves, Robert. “Legitimate Criticism of Poetry.” On Poetry: Collected Talks and Essays. Garden City,        New York: Doubleday and, 1969. 201-25. Print.

 

 

Siegfried Sassoon, scorched glory: a critical study

Paul Moyes

This book takes from Sassoon’s edited diaries and letters to explore the evolution of his writing, specifically within the Georgian movement. It was in these autobiographies and his diaries that Sassoon found a voice. I looked specifically at one of the final chapters titled “God’s Treasure” where Moeyes talks about Sassoon’s conversion to Christianity, but also the tumult and confused identity of the War poet in the years leading up to his conversion.

For example, before 1920, Sassoon felt as if the “ ‘critical world’ didn’t seem to have any bearing on what [he] really [was]” because all writing was intellectual, and critics did not understand the simplicity and naturalness behind his writing (247). Sassoon was comfortable using the traditional forms against which the avant-garde movement reacted, but Sassoon was never strictly conventional. Moeyes claims that in the opening poems of Common Chords, a compilation of poetry, “the division [Sassoon] thus creates between the world of man and that of Nature then also becomes a division between the urban-oriented, intellectual poetry of the Modernists and the Nature-loving, non-intellectual Georgians” (231). Moeyes also mentions Sassoon’s Georgian dilemma; that is, “whether to attempt to please a wide readership and pursue the popular successes that his prose works had brought him, or to follow his own inclinations and continue his spiritual journey” (230).

Whatever Sassoon’s inclinations may have been- towards intellectualism or naturalism- this chapter also proves that disillusionment with human nature burdened the author. Moeyes references Meredith, Sassoon’s first attempt at prose, where the author “unequivocally sates his dissatisfaction with the present age, in which the Victorian belief in human progress had been disproved when man’s scientific discoveries were used to destroy young lives in the Great War” (228). We can use this piece to prove that Sassoon’s contribution to The Owl also reflects this deep disillusionment.

Moeyes, Paul. “God’s Treasure.”Siegfried Sassoon, scorched glory: a critical study. St. Martin’s Press,       New Yorkd, 1997. 225-251. Print.

 

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