Grandeur of Ghosts

By Siegfried Sassoon 1886–1967 Siegfried Sassoon
When I have heard small talk about great men   
I climb to bed; light my two candles; then
Consider what was said; and put aside
What Such-a-one remarked and Someone-else replied.

They have spoken lightly of my deathless friends,
(Lamps for my gloom, hands guiding where I stumble,)   
Quoting, for shallow conversational ends,
What Shelley shrilled, what Blake once wildly muttered ....

How can they use such names and be not humble?   
I have sat silent; angry at what they uttered.
The dead bequeathed them life; the dead have said   
What these can only memorize and mumble.

Source: Selected Poems (1968)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Siegfried Sassoon 1886–1967

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Georgian

 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 . . .

Continue reading this biography

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Georgian

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.