“The Tombstone-Maker,” Siegfried Sassoon

The Tombstone-Maker

He primmed his loose red mouth and leaned his head
Against a sorrowing angel’s breast, and said:
‘You’d think so much bereavement would have made
‘Unusual big demands upon my trade.
‘The War comes cruel hard on some poor folk;
‘Unless the fighting stops I’ll soon be broke.’

He eyed the Cemetery across the road.
‘There’s scores of bodies out abroad, this while,
‘That should be here by rights. They little know’d
‘How they’d get buried in such wretched style.’

I told him with a sympathetic grin,
That Germans boil dead soldiers down for fat;
And he was horrified. ‘What shameful sin!
‘O sir, that Christian souls should come to that!’

–Siegfried Sassoon

Historical note: The British claimed that the German army used the fat from human corpses to make various products during World War I in The Times (April 1917) and later in other newspapers. British Foreign Secretary Sir Austen Chamberlain officially admitted that the story was untrue, but not until 1925. Sources: Phillip Knightley, The First Casualty; Arthur Ponsonby, Falsehood in Wartime; Walter Laqueur, The Terrible Secret.

About Victoria Janssen

Victoria Janssen’s first erotic novel, The Duchess, Her Maid, The Groom and Their Lover (Harlequin Spice, December 2008), was translated into French and German. Her second Spice novel, The Moonlight Mistress (December 2009), was translated into Italian and nominated for a RT Reviews Reviewers’ Choice Award. Her third novel is The Duke & The Pirate Queen (December 2010). She has also published erotic short stories as Elspeth Potter. Her blog features professional writing and marketing tips, genre discussion, book reviews, and occasional author interviews.
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