Prelude to an Unwritten Masterpiece by Siegfried Sassoon
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’.
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 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, 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 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 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?’