The Old Huntsman by Siegfried Sassoon


Published in 1917, The Old Huntsman, and Other Poems contains Siegfried Sassoon’s first pieces of war poetry. This was technically skilful, unflinchingly realistic and honest poetry that revealed a great capacity for empathy as well as satire. Included are poems now commonly anthologised such as ‘“They”’ and ‘A Working Party’.

Sassoon's influence on Wilfred Owen

Wilfred Owen read The Old Huntsman in mid-August 1917 at the Craiglockhart War Hospital, Edinburgh. Later that same month, Owen met Sassoon for the first time. In awe of the collection, Owen wrote of The Old Huntsman in a letter to his mother, Susan, on 15 August 1917:

I have just been reading Seigfried Sasoon [sic], and am feeling at a very high pitch of emotion. Nothing like his trench life sketches has ever been written or ever will be written. Shakespeare reads vapid after these. Not of course because Sassoon is a greater artist, but because of the subjects, I mean.

In a separate letter to his cousin, Leslie Gunston, he named ‘The Death-Bed’ as the collection’s ‘finest poem’. Sassoon’s role as friend and mentor would become invaluable to Owen’s development as a poet.

Full title:
The Old Huntsman, and other poems
1917, London
Siegfried Sassoon
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© Siegfried Sassoon by kind permission of the Estate of George Sassoon. Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.

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British Library

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