Ancient History

By Siegfried Sassoon 1886–1967 Siegfried Sassoon
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.

Source: Selected Poems (1968)

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Poet Siegfried Sassoon 1886–1967

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Georgian

Subjects Religion, History & Politics, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 Siegfried  Sassoon

Biography

Siegfried Sassoon is best remembered for his angry and compassionate poems of the First World War, which brought him public and critical acclaim. Avoiding the sentimentality and jingoism of many war poets, Sassoon wrote of the horror and brutality of trench warfare and contemptuously satirized generals, politicians, and churchmen for their incompetence and blind support of the war. His later poems, often concerned with religious . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Religion, History & Politics, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Georgian

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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