Familiar Letter To Siegfried Sassoon
FAMILIAR LETTER TO SIEGFRIED SASSOON by ROBERT GRAVES (From Bivouacs at Mametz Wood, July 13th, 1916)
I never dreamed we'd meet that day In our old haunts down Fricourt way, Plotting such marvellous journeys there For golden-houred 'Aprés-la-guerre.' Well, when it's over, first we'll meet At Gweithdy Bach, my country seat In Wales, a curious little shop With two rooms and a roof on top, A sort of Morlancourt-ish billet That never needs a crowd to fill it. But oh, the country round about! The sort of view that makes you shout For want of any better way Of praising God: there's a blue bay Shining in front, and on the right Snowdon and Hebog capped with white, And lots of other mountain peaks That you could wonder at for weeks, With jag and spur and hump and cleft. There's a grey castle on the left, And back in the high hinterland You'll see the grave of Shawn Knarlbrand Who slew the savage Buffaloon By the Nant-col one night in June, And won his surname from the horn Of this prodigious unicorn. Beyond, where the two Rhinogs tower, Rhinog Fach and Rhinog Fawr, Close there after a four years' chase From Thessaly and the woods of Thrace, The beaten Dog-cat stood at bay And growled and fought and passed away. You'll see where mountain conies grapple With prayer and creed in their rock chapel Which three young children once built for them; They call it Séar Bethlehem. You'll see where in old Roman days, Before Revivals changed our ways, The Virgin 'scaped the Devil's grab, Printing her foot on a stone slab With five clear toe-marks; and you'll find The fiendish thumb-print close behind. You'll see where Math, Mathonwy's son, Spoke with the wizard Gwydion And bade him for South Wales set out To steal that creature with the snout, That new-discovered grunting beast Divinely flavoured for the feast. No traveller yet has hit upon A wilder land than Meirion, For desolate hills and tumbling stones, Bogland and melody and old bones. Fairies and ghosts are here galore, And poetry most splendid, more Than can be written with the pen Or understood by common men.
In Gweithdy Bach we'll rest a while, We'll dress our wounds and learn to smile With easier lips; we'll stretch our legs, And live on bilberry tart and eggs, And store up solar energy, Basking in sunshine by the sea, Until we feel a match once more For anything but another war. So then we'll kiss our families, And sail away across the seas (The God of Song protecting us) To the great hills of Caucasus. Robert will learn the local bat For billeting and things like that, If Siegfried learns the piccolo To charm the people as we go. The simple peasants clad in furs Will greet the foreign officers With open arms, and ere they pass Will make them tuneful with Kavasse. In old Bagdad we'll call a halt At the Sashuns' ancestral vault; We'll catch the Persian rose-flowers' scent, And understand what Omar meant. Bitlis and Mush will know our faces, Tiflis and Tomsk, and all such places. Perhaps eventually we'll get Among the Tartars of Thibet, Hobnobbing with the Chungs and Mings, And doing wild, tremendous things In free adventure, quest and fight, And God! what poetry we'll write!
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|Author||Graves, Robert (1895-1985)|
|Title||Familiar Letter To Siegfried Sassoon|
|Item Date||(1995, 1997, 1999)|
|Copyright||The Robert Graves Copyright Trust|
|First line||I never dreamed we'd meet that day|
|Publication source||Robert Graves Complete Poems: Volumes 1 - 3|
|Publication editor||Graves, Beryl and Ward, Dunstan|
|Digital repository||The First World War Poetry Digital Archive|