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Suicide in the trenches

Language: English

I knew a simple soldier boy
Who grinned at life in empty joy,
Slept soundly through the lonesome dark,
And whistled early with the lark.

In winter trenches, cowed and glum,
With crumps and lice and lack of rum,
He put a bullet through his brain.
No one spoke of him again.

 *       *       *       *       *

You snug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

Translation(s): FRE

List of language codes

Confirmed with Siegfried Sassoon, COUNTER-ATTACK and other poems, E.P .Dutton and company, New York, 1918, page 31

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator] and Pierre Mathé [Guest Editor]


Musical settings (art songs, Lieder, mélodies, (etc.), choral pieces, and other vocal works set to this text), listed by composer (not necessarily exhaustive)

Available translations, adaptations or excerpts, and transliterations (if applicable):

  • FRE French (Français) (Pierre Mathé) , "Suicide dans les tranchées", copyright © 2017, (re)printed on this website with kind permission

Text added to the website: 2008-10-19.
Last modified: 2017-01-03 09:37:46
Line count: 13
Word count: 84

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Suicide dans les tranchées

Language: French (Français) after the English

J'ai connu un simple garçon soldat
Qui souriait à la vie avec une joie futile,
Qui dormait profondément durant les nuits solitaires,
Et sifflait de bonne heure avec l'alouette.

Dans les tranchées de l'hiver, effrayantes et tristes,
Avec les détonations et les poux et le manque de rhum,
Il se tira une balle dans la tête.
Plus personne ne parle de lui.

 *        *        *        *        *

Vous les foules bien au chaud, aux yeux enflammés,
Qui applaudissez quand passent les garçons soldats,
Filez chez vous, et priez pour ne jamais connaître
L'enfer où vont la jeunesse et les rires.

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  • Translation from English to French (Français) copyright © 2017 by Pierre Mathé, (re)printed on this website with kind permission. To reprint and distribute this author's work for concert programs, CD booklets, etc., you may ask the copyright-holder(s) directly or ask us; we are authorized to grant permission on their behalf. Please provide the translator's name when contacting us.


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Based on
  • a text in English by Siegfried Lorraine Sassoon (1886 - 1967), "Suicide in the trenches", from Cambridge Magazine, February 1918, revised 1919
      • This text was set to music by the following composer(s): Harold Blumenfeld, Michael Ippolito, Hugo Weisgall. Go to the text.


Text added to the website: 2017-01-03.
Last modified: 2017-02-16 14:15:08
Line count: 13
Word count: 100