Three Songs
Texts by Siegfried Sassoon

    Andrew Whitfield, baritone
    Philip Wharton, violin
    ca. 6 minutes

Does It Matter?

   

In the Trenches

   

Thrushes

   


Texts (with original titles) are from Counter-Attack (1918)

Does It Matter?
Does it matter?—losing your legs?…
For people will always be kind,
And you need not show that you mind
When the others come in after hunting
To gobble their muffins and eggs.

Does it matter?—losing your sight?…
There’s such splendid work for the blind;
And people will always be kind,
As you sit on the terrace remembering
And turning your face to the light.

Do they matter?—those dreams from the pit?…
You can drink and forget and be glad,
And people won’t say that you’re mad;
For they’ll know you’ve fought for your country
And no one will worry a bit.




Suicide in the Trenches
I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

    .    .    .    .

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.




Thrushes
Tossed on the glittering air they soar and skim,
Whose voices make the emptiness of light
A windy palace. Quavering from the brim
Of dawn, and bold with song at edge of night,
They clutch their leafy pinnacles and sing
Scornful of man, and from his toils aloof
Whose heart’s a haunted woodland whispering;
Whose thoughts return on tempest-baffled wing;
Who hears the cry of God in everything,
And storms the gate of nothingness for proof.