The eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month

Young Croesus went to pay his call
On Colonel Sawbones, Caxton Hall:
And, though his wound was healed and mended,
He hoped he’d get his leave extended.

The waiting-room was dark and bare.
He eyed a neat-framed notice there
Above the fireplace hung to show
Disabled heroes where to go
For arms and legs; with scale of price,
And words of dignified advice
How officers could get them free.

Elbow or shoulder, hip or knee,
Two arms, two legs, though all were lost,
They’d be restored him free of cost.
Then a Girl Guide looked to say,
‘Will Captain Croesus come this way?’

“Arms and the man”, Siegfried Sassoon

Sassoon, often referred to as the most innocent of the Great War poets, turned his poetry and his inventive sarcasm not only on the war and the enemy of the time but on the damned fool politicians (we could use more of that today – sadly we still have stupid fools who seem to make the decision to send people out to fight and die all too easily; perhaps each leader who would consider leading us into war should be forced to put forward a blood guarantee by only being allowed to send us to war if a close blood relation of theirs goes to. Then maybe they might suddenly think on other ways…).

Incidentally Sassoon escaped full censure from a less than forgiving military and political elite for speaking his mind by being classes as ‘shell-shocked’, which in truth he probably was but it doesn’t lessen his criticisms. He was sent to recuperate at Craiglockhart, not far from where I live in Edinburgh where among those being treated by psychiatrists (officers only, enlisted men didn’t get such treatment, needless to say) he met and befriended another of that dreadful slaughter’s greatest makkers, Wilfred Owen. They might have walked some of the same streets near me or the ones in the centre of Edinburgh when they sneaked out for the day. Then they were sent back to a man-made hell. Damn every bastard who thinks the sword, the gun and the bomb is the simplest and quickest way to achieve their aims.