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Siegfried Loraine Sassoon

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Siegfried Loraine Sassoon

(September 8th, 1886 in Matfield, Kent, England

~ September 1st, 1967)

His Jewish father, Alfred, one of the most merchant family, was disherited for marrying outside the faith. His English mother, Theresa, belonged to the Thornycroft family who are sculptors responsible for many of the best-known statues in London.

He was educated at The New Beacon Preparatory School in Kent, Marlborough College in Wiltshire, and at Clare College in Cambridge where he studied both law and history from 1905 to 1907. However, he dropped out of university without a degree and spent the new few years hunting, playing cricket and privately publishing a few volumes of peotry.

Sassoon, motivated by patriotism, joined the military just as the threat of World War I was realised, and was in service with the Sussex Yeomanry on the day UK declared war (August 4th,1914). He broke his arm badly in a riding accident and was put out of action before even leaving England. Around this time, his younger brother Hamo was killed at Gallipoli. The loss upset Sassoon and he became determined to "get his revenge" on the Germans. To this end, he went out on patrol in no-man's-land even when there were no raids planned. Such reckless enthusiasm earned him the nickname "Mad Jack".

In May of that 1915, he joined the Royal Welch Fusiliers as a commissioned officer, and in November, he was sent to First Battalion in France. He was thus brought into contact with Robert Graves, and they became close friends. Though this did not have much perceptible influence on Graves's poetry, his views on what may be called 'gritty realism' profoundly affected Sassoon's concept of what constituted poetry. He soon became horrified by the realities of war, and the tone of his writing changed completely: where his early poems exhibit a Romantic dilettantish sweetness, his war poetry moves to an increasingly discordant music, intended to convey the ugly truths of the trenches to an audience hitherto lulled by patriotic propaganda.

At Craiglockhart, Sassoon met Wilfred Owen. To all intents and purposes, surviving documents demonstrate clearly the depth of Owen's love and admiration for him. Both men returned to active service in France, but Owen was killed in 1918. Sassoon, having spent some time out of danger in Palestine, eventually returned to the Front, was almost immediately wounded in the head and spent the remainder of the war in Britain.

Sassoon is adept at catching the rhythms and slang of the ordinary soldiers he served with, whilst the deep empathy underlying the words



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