Learning Curve, The Great War
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Transcript: Source2
Writings by the war poet, Siegfried Sassoon, published between 1918 and 1938
(Courtesy of Faber and Faber. 2a is from 'The War Poems', 1983. 2b is from 'Complete Memoirs of George Sherston', 1937)
Source 2a    
 
The General
 
  "Good-morning, good-morning!" the General said
When we met him last week on our way to the line.
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of 'em dead,
And we're cursing his staff for incompetent swine.
"He's a cheery old card," grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

.   .   .
But he did for them both by his plan of attack.
 
Denmark Hill Hospital, April 1917
 
Source 2b    

     I was nearly thirty-two and nothing that I'd done seemed to have been any good. There was some consolation in the feeling that one wasn't as old as one's age, but when I tried to think about the future I found that I couldn't see it. There was no future except "the rest of the War", and I didn't want that. My knight-errantry about the War had fizzled out in more ways than one, and I couldn't go back to being the same as I was before it started. The "good old days" had been pleasant enough in their way, but what could a repetition of them possibly lead to?

     How could I begin my life all over again when I had no conviction about anything except that the War was a dirty trick which had been played on me and my generation? That, at any rate, was something to be angry and bitter about now that everything had fallen to pieces and one's mind was in a muddle and one's nerves were all on edge….

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