If you could crowd them into forty lines!
Yes; you can do it, once you get a start;
All that you want is waiting in your head,
For long-ago you’ve learnt it off by heart.
. . . .
Begin: your mind’s the room where you have slept,
(Don’t pause for rhymes), till twilight woke you early.
The window stands wide-open, as it stood
When tree-tops loomed enchanted for a child
Hearing the dawn’s first thrushes through the wood
Warbling (you know the words) serene and wild.
You’ve said it all before: you dreamed of Death,
A dim Apollo in the bird-voiced breeze
That drifts across the morning veiled with showers,
While golden weather shines among dark trees.
You’ve got your limitations; let them sing,
And all your life will waken with a cry:
Why should you halt when rapture’s on the wing
And you’ve no limit but the cloud-flocked sky?...
But some chap shouts, ‘Here, stop it; that’s been done!’—
As God might holloa to the rising sun,
And then relent, because the glorying rays
Remind Him of green-glinting Eden days,
And Adam’s trustful eyes as he looks up
From carving eagles on his beechwood cup.
Young Adam knew his job; he could condense
Life to an eagle from the unknown immense....
Go on, whoever you are; your lines can be
A whisper in the music from the weirs
Of song that plunge and tumble toward the sea
That is the uncharted mercy of our tears.
. . . .
I told you it was easy! ... Words are fools
Who follow blindly, once they get a lead.
But thoughts are kingfishers that haunt the pools
Of quiet; seldom-seen: and all you need
Is just that flash of joy above your dream.
So, when those forty platitudes are done,
You’ll hear a bird-note calling from the stream
That wandered through your childhood; and the sun
Will strike the old flaming wonder from the waters....
And there’ll be forty lines not yet begun.
Siegfried Sassoon's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (Limitations by Siegfried Sassoon )
Did you read them?
- 7 Aprl 2014, Shri R Brahma
- 25 March 2014, Shri R Brahma
- Walking the Dog, Kaila George
- Assimilating Thoughts, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- 17 March 2014, Shri R Brahma
- An Ode To Odes Of Olde (Love & Woe), Tad Russell
- 15 March 2014, Shri R Brahma
- Unknown Mysteries, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Folding Teardrops, RoseAnn V. Shawiak
- Tapped......, PARTHA SARATHI PAUL
Poem of the Day
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Dreams, Langston Hughes
- Phenomenal Woman, Maya Angelou
- If, Rudyard Kipling
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Invictus, William Ernest Henley
- As I Grew Older, Langston Hughes
- Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening, Robert Frost
(1 February 1902 – 22 May 1967)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(10 December 1830 – 15 May 1886)
Sheldon Allan Silverstein
(September 25, 1930 – May 10, 1999)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)
- Heather Burns
(28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827)