Heavy weather

By , August 12, 2010 5:45 pm

One of the disadvantages of reading for pleasure rather than for research is there is (in me at least) a tendency for the choice of books to be fairly discursive. Consequently, when something interesting crops up it’s often difficult to spot that it might one day prove useful in another context and ought to be carefully noted down for future reference. And after a while, of course, I can no longer remember where on earth I read it.

During the time I’ve been working on Sassoon I’ve been trying to recall where I once saw (or heard – maybe it was on television or radio) the story of an old Army officer from the Great War who had been reading an anthology of the war poets. He had fought on the Western Front and spent a lot of time in the trenches. He wasn’t a literary man. He was asked what he thought of the poems of Sassoon, Owen and their contemporaries, and replied that yes, they were jolly good, very descriptive and realistic. Then he paused and added: ‘But those poet chaps – they do seem to have made rather heavy weather of it all!’

I’d very much like to pin this down. Can anyone point me to a reliable source for it?