For me this poem, one of Wilfred’s lesser known ones, is all in the last three words.
It’s a game played by the wealthy elite for power and gain. There is nothing noble about it. It is base, corrupt and built on greed and power.
It is about flags, patriotism and possession. What wars have been just wars?
How could they all have been avoided?
For this men, women and children die horrible deaths. They crouch in trenches expecting death – and death comes all around them.
It is a joke.
War’s a joke for me and you,
While we know such dreams are true.
– Siegfried Sassoon
The Next War
Out there, we’ve walked quite friendly up to Death,-
Sat down and eaten with him, cool and bland,-
Pardoned his spilling mess-tins in our hand.
We’ve sniffed the green thick odour of his breath,-
Our eyes wept, but our courage didn’t writhe.
He’s spat at us with bullets and he’s coughed
Shrapnel. We chorussed when he sang aloft,
We whistled while he shaved us with his scythe.
Oh, Death was never enemy of ours!
We laughed at him, we leagued with him, old chum.
No soldier’s paid to kick against His powers.
We laughed, -knowing that better men would come,
And greater wars: when each proud fighter brags
He wars on Death, for lives; not men, for flags.