When Watkin shifts the burden of his cares
And all that irked him in his bound employ,
Once more become a vagrom-hearted boy,
He moves to roundelays and jocund airs;
Loitering with dusty harvestmen, he shares
Old ale and sunshine; or, with maids half-coy,
Pays court to shadows; fools himself with joy,
Shaking a leg at junketings and fairs.
Sometimes, returning down his breezy miles,
A snatch of wayward April he will bring,
Piping the daffodilly that beguiles
Foolhardy lovers in the surge of spring.
And then once more by lanes and field-path stiles
Up the green world he wanders like a king.
Siegfried Sassoon became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches, and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon’s view, were responsible for a jingoism-fuelled war. Sassoon became a focal point for dissent within the armed forces when he made a lone protest against the continuation of the war in his “Soldier’s Declaration” of 1917, culminating in his admission to a military psychiatric hospital; this resulted in his forming a friendship with Wilfred Owen, who was greatly influenced by him.