On Scratchbury Camp

By Siegfried Sassoon 1886–1967 Siegfried Sassoon
Along the grave green downs, this idle afternoon,   
Shadows of loitering silver clouds, becalmed in blue,   
Bring, like unfoldment of a flower, the best of June.

Shadows outspread in spacious movement, always you   
Have dappled the downs and valleys at this time of year,   
While larks, ascending shrill, praised freedom as they flew.   
Now, through that song, a fighter-squadron’s drone I hear   
From Scratchbury Camp, whose turfed and cowslip’d rampart seems
More hill than history, ageless and oblivion-blurred.

I walk the fosse, once manned by bronze and flint-head spear;   
On war’s imperious wing the shafted sun-ray gleams:   
One with the warm sweet air of summer stoops the bird.

Cloud shadows, drifting slow like heedless daylight dreams,   
Dwell and dissolve; uncircumstanced they pause and pass.   
I watch them go. My horse, contented, crops the grass.

Sigfried Sassoon, “On Scratchbury Camp” from Collected Poems 1908-1956. Copyright Siegfried Sassoon. Reprinted by kind permission of George Sassoon.

Source: Selected Poems (Penguin Books, 1968)

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Poet Siegfried Sassoon 1886–1967

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Georgian

Subjects Nature

 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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SUBJECT Nature

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Georgian

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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