Siegfried Sassoon: the Enemy within

Ancient History


Adam, a brown old vulture in the rain,
Shivered below his wind-whipped olive-trees;
Huddling sharp chin on scarred and scraggy knees,
He moaned and mumbled to his darkening brain;
“He was the grandest of them all was Cain!
A lion laired in the hills, that none could tire:
Swift as a stag: a stallion of the plain,
Hungry and fierce with deeds of huge desire.”

Grimly he thought of Abel, soft and fair,
A lover with disaster in his face,
And scarlet blossom twisted in bright hair.
“Afraid to fight;  was murder more disgrace?
God always hated Cain.”  He bowed his head,
The gaunt wild man whose lovely sons were dead.




Parable of the Old Men and the Young


So Abram rose, and clave the wood, and went,
And took the fire with him, and a knife.
And as they sojourned both of them together,
Isaac the first-born spake and said, My Father,
Behold the preparations, fire and iron,
But where the lamb for this burnt-offering?
Then Abram bound the youth with belts and straps,
And builded parapets and trenches there,

And stretchéd forth the knife to slay his son.

When lo! an angel called him out of heaven,
Saying, Lay not thy hand upon the lad,
Neither do anything to him.  Behold,
A ram caught in a thicket by its horns;
Offer the Ram of Pride instead of him.
But the old man would not so, but slew his son. . . .




Siegfried Sassoon (1886-1967) was an English poet – and  a  soldier

during “The Great War” (1914-1918)  a.k.a.  World War I.   For him,

it was “The Vainglorious War”.