Verse > Siegfried Sassoon > Picture-Show

Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).  Picture-Show.  1920.

31. Prelude to an Unwritten Masterpiece

YOU like my bird-sung gardens: wings and flowers; 
Calm landscapes for emotion; star-lit lawns; 
And Youth against the sun-rise ... ‘Not profound; 
‘But such a haunting music in the sound: 
‘Do it once more; it helps us to forget’.         5
Last night I dreamt an old recurring scene— 
Some complex out of childhood; (sex, of course!) 
I can’t remember how the trouble starts; 
And then I’m running blindly in the sun 
Down the old orchard, and there’s something cruel  10
Chasing me; someone roused to a grim pursuit 
Of clumsy anger ... Crash! I’m through the fence 
And thrusting wildly down the wood that’s dense 
With woven green of safety; paths that wind 
Moss-grown from glade to glade; and far behind,  15
One thwarted yell; then silence. I’ve escaped. 
That’s where it used to stop. Last night I went 
Onward until the trees were dark and huge, 
And I was lost, cut off from all return 
By swamps and birdless jungles. I’d no chance  20
Of getting home for tea. I woke with shivers, 
And thought of crocodiles in crawling rivers. 
Some day I’ll build (more ruggedly than Doughty) 
A dark tremendous song you’ll never hear. 
My beard will be a snow-storm, drifting whiter  25
On bowed, prophetic shoulders, year by year. 
And some will say, ‘His work has grown so dreary.’ 
Others, ‘He used to be a charming writer’. 
And you, my friend, will query— 
‘Why can’t you cut it short, you pompous blighter?’  30



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