Counter-Attack, and Other Poems is Siegfried Sassoon’s second collection of war poetry, published in 1918. These startlingly realistic and angrily satirical poems consistently, and from different angles, protest against the war. Sassoon served in the First World War from 1914 (though was transferred to the Western Front in 1915) to July 1918.
Shown here is ‘The Rear-Guard’, a horrifying depiction of life and death in the trenches, written at the Hindenburg Line, April 1917; ‘Glory of Women’, an attack on perceived attitudes among female civilians; and ‘Repression of War Experience’, a striking piece about shellshock, no doubt influenced by the time Sassoon spent as a patient at Craiglockhart War Hospital.
In a letter dated 7 September, Wilfred Owen describes to his mother first hearing some of the poems which would eventually be published in Counter-Attack: ‘he read me his very last works, which are superb beyond anything in his Book [The Old Huntsman and Other Poems]. Last night he wrote a piece which is the most exquisitely painful war poem of any language of time.’