By Siegfried Sassoon
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.
Sassoon was decorated for bravery on the Western Front and was nicknamed ‘Mad Jack’ by his men for his near-suicidal exploits. In 1917, he rebelled against the conduct of the war in a letter to his commanding officer and was sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital, where he was officially treated for PTSD. He returned to the Front but was wounded in 1918 when he was shot in the head by a fellow British soldier who had mistaken him for a German. He survived. Sassoon wrote ‘The Kiss’ in training shortly before the Battle of the Somme.