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Swithin

Siegfried Sassoon love poem discovered

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Siegfried Sassoon was one of the great World War I poets, perhaps second only to his friend Wilfred Owen. A poem has just been discovered which he wrote to Glen Byam Shaw, theater director/actor.

2560.jpg?width=700&quality=85&auto=forma

Siegfried Sassoon, Glen Byam Shaw

"It is a poem of only eight lines, but those lines are filled with tender emotion for a young man who was the author’s lover. The words are all the more poignant as the poem dates from a time – the 1920s – when he could never have written openly of homosexual love."

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/09/student-discovers-new-siegfried-sassoon-love-poem

Siegfried Sassoon went on to have romances with other men, most notably Stephen Tennant. Sassoon later married. Byam Shaw married actress Angela Baddeley but was said to have had a longstanding affair with Rachel Kempson, wife of Michael Redgrave, who was (mostly) gay.

I saw a production of The Tempest a few years ago, with Ralph Fiennes as Prospero and (the rather adorable) Tom Byam Shaw as Ariel. I think Tom is a descendant of the illustrious Byam Shaw family.

the-tempest-play-at-the-theatre-royal-ha

Ralph Fiennes, Tom Byam Shaw

 

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22 minutes ago, Swithin said:

Siegfried Sassoon was one of the great World War I poets, perhaps second only to his friend Wilfred Owen. A poem has just been discovered which he wrote to Glen Byam Shaw, theater director/actor.

2560.jpg?width=700&quality=85&auto=forma

Siegfried Sassoon, Glen Byam Shaw

"It is a poem of only eight lines, but those lines are filled with tender emotion for a young man who was the author’s lover. The words are all the more poignant as the poem dates from a time – the 1920s – when he could never have written openly of homosexual love."

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/jun/09/student-discovers-new-siegfried-sassoon-love-poem

Siegfried Sassoon went on to have romances with other men, most notably Stephen Tennant. Sassoon later married. Byam Shaw married actress Angela Baddeley but was said to have had a longstanding affair with Rachel Kempson, wife of Michael Redgrave, who was (mostly) gay.

I saw a production of The Tempest a few years ago, with Ralph Fiennes as Prospero and (the rather adorable) Tom Byam Shaw as Ariel. I think Tom is a descendant of the illustrious Byam Shaw family.

the-tempest-play-at-the-theatre-royal-ha

Ralph Fiennes, Tom Byam Shaw

 

This could be a movie

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This story reminds me somewhat of Alan Hollinghurst's novel, The Stranger's Child, in which an pre-war poem inspired by a visit to the poet's lover's home is misinterpreted by the family as being meant for the lover's sister, obscuring both the meaning of the poem and the love of the two men. Clues persist down through generations but at last seem destined to disappear without a trace. Not nearly as dull as I've made it sound.

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Sassoon wrote prose as well. I read Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man many years ago. It's a very sweet book, the first of a trilogy. No even proto-gay references as I recall, but I should read it again. It's sort of a fictionalized autobiography of the young Sassoon. Much of Sassoon's work is online.

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Here's one of his war poems, a few of which are categorized by suffering soldiers dreaming of life back home.  Pat Barker wrote the novel Regeneration, about the meeting between Sassoon and Wilfred Owen in a hospital in Edinburgh, where they were being treated for shell shock. Sassoon and Owen really did meet at the hospital, and became friends for life, although Owen was to return to battle and died a week before the armistice.

DREAMERS

Soldiers are citizens of death's gray land,
  Drawing no dividend from time's to-morrows.
In the great hour of destiny they stand,
  Each with his feuds, and jealousies, and sorrows.
Soldiers are sworn to action; they must win
  Some flaming, fatal climax with their lives.
Soldiers are dreamers; when the guns begin
  They think of firelit homes, clean beds, and wives.

I see them in foul dug-outs, gnawed by rats,
  And in the ruined trenches, lashed with rain,
Dreaming of things they did with balls and bats,
  And mocked by hopeless longing to regain
Bank-holidays, and picture shows, and spats,
  And going to the office in the train.

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