The Kiss
Op.2

for tenor, piano
8 mins.
|
1967
|

Three songs on poems by Siegfried Sassoon

1. Suicide in the trenches
2. The Kiss
3. The Dug-out

Text

1: 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.

2: The Kiss

To these I turn, in these I trust –
Brother Lead and Sister Steel.
To his blind power I make appeal,
I guard her beauty clean from rust.

He spins and burns and loves the air,
And splits a skull to win my praise;
But up the nobly marching days
She glitters naked, cold and fair.

Sweet Sister, grant your soldier this :
That in good fury he may feel
The body where he sets his heel
Quail from your downward darting kiss.

3: The Dug-out

Why do you lie with your legs ungainly huddled,
And one arm bent across your sullen, cold,
Exhausted face ? It hurts my heart to watch you,
Deep-shadow’d from the candle’s guttering gold ;
And you wonder why I shake you by the shoulder ;
Drowsy, you mumble and sigh and turn your head . . .
You are too young to fall asleep for ever ;
And when you sleep you remind me of the dead.

Siegfried Sassoon

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