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October Trees
Siegfried Sassoon


How innocent were these Trees, that in
Mist-green May, blown by a prospering breeze,
Stood garlanded and gay;
Who now in sundown glow
Of serious color clad confront me with their show
As though resigned and sad,
Trees, who unwhispering stand umber, bronze, gold;
Pavilioning the land for one grown tired and old;
Elm, chestnut, aspen and pine, I am merged in you,
Who tell once more in tones of time,
Your foliaged farewell.

This poem is in the public domain.

Siegfried Sassoon was a British patriot and poet who grew increasingly jaded about the value of war and ultimately became known for his brutally satirical antiwar poetry. He is recognized as one of sixteen "Great War Poets" on a plaque in Westminster Abbey. "Everyone Sang" is his most famous poem, but in this excerpt from his memoir, Siegfried’s Journey, Sassoon confesses that its creation was not in the least remarkable:

"One evening in the middle of April I had an experience which seems worth describing for those who are interested in methods of poetic production. It was a sultry spring night. I was feeling dull-minded and depressed, for no assignable reason. After sitting lethargically in the ground-floor room [at Weirleigh, his mother's home] for about three hours after dinner, I came to the conclusion that there was nothing for it but to take my useless brain to bed. On my way from the arm-chair to the door I stood by the writing-table. A few words floated into my head as though from nowhere. In those days I was always on the look-out for a lyric - I wish I could say the same for my present self - so I picked up a pencil and wrote the words on a sheet of note-paper. Without sitting down, I added a second line. It was if I were remembering rather than thinking. In this mindless manner I wrote down my poem in a few minutes. When it was finished I read it through, with no sense of elation, merely wondering how I had come to be writing a poem when feeling so stupid."

Post New Comment:
Someone told me recently that Siegfried Sassoon turned out to be the salvation of high school English class for her son. He was bored to death until he happened across one of Siegfried's poems, then couldn't wait to read more.
Posted 10/06/2010 09:57 AM
Julianne Carlile:
I thought this was beautiful.
Posted 10/05/2010 10:32 AM

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