Verse > Siegfried Sassoon > The Old Huntsman and Other Poems

Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).  The Old Huntsman and Other Poems.  1918.

22. The Choral Union

HE staggered in from night and frost and fog 
And lampless streets: he’d guzzled like a hog 
And drunk till he was dazed. And now he came 
To hear—he couldn’t call to mind the name— 
But he’d been given a ticket for the show,         5
And thought he’d (hiccup) chance his luck and go. 
The hall swam in his eyes, and soaring light 
Was dazzling splendid after the dank night. 
He sat and blinked, safe in his cushioned seat, 
And licked his lips; he’d like a brandy, neat.  10
‘Who is the King of Glory?’ they were saying, 
He pricked his ears; what was it? Were they praying?... 
By God, it might be Heaven! For singers stood 
Ranked in pure white; and everyone seemed good; 
And clergymen were sitting meekly round  15
With joyful faces, drinking in the sound; 
And holy women, and plump whiskered men. 
Could this be Heaven? And was he dead? And then 
They all stood up; the mighty chorus broke 
In storms of song above those blameless folk;  20
And ‘Hallelujah, Hallelujah!’ rang 
The burden of the triumph that they sang. 
He gasped; it must be true; he’d got to Heaven 
With all his sins that seventy times were seven; 
And whispering ‘Hallelujah’ mid their shout,  25
He wondered when Lord God would turn him out. 



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