Games of Ghosts

A decorated copy of a poem

A decorated copy of a poem first printed in the Heinemann edition of Vigils, 1935. From MS Add. 9852.

To stand in some redoubt of Time,—to share again
All but the actual wetness of the flare-lit rain,
All but the living presences who haunt us yet

‘To One Who was With Me in the War’

After the Armistice in 1918 Sassoon’s life outwardly reverted to its former state. He now moved in London literary circles, but he remained leisured and self-absorbed, and his Socialist scruples, nurtured among the suffering troops, were gradually worn down by the privileges of private money. Without the enormity of World War to sustain it, his satirical energy was dissipated in observations on art, music and the social scene; but in other poems he revisited the horrors of the trenches and warned of the dangers of resurgent militarism. A sense of listening for the ghostly voices of the destroyed lives of the Western Front pervades much of Sassoon’s poetry of the 1920s and 1930s.

Although his poems were published under the mainstream imprints of Heinemann and Faber, Sassoon continued his pre-War practice of issuing limited editions of verse from small presses. His friendship with the surgeon and bibliographer Geoffrey Keynes led to collaborations on a series of fine-press volumes beginning with Vigils in 1934.

Watercolour decoration in a notebook of poetry drafts

Watercolour decoration in a notebook of poetry drafts, 1935. From MS Add. 9852.

A draft of ‘T.E.L.’

A draft of ‘T.E.L.’, Sassoon’s poem commemorating T. E. Lawrence, whom he had first met in 1918. From MS Add. 9852.

 

Read the captions