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The Portrait
Siegfried Sassoon


I watch you, gazing at me from the wall,
And wonder how you'd match your dreams with mine,
If, mastering time's illusion, I could call
You back to share this quiet candle-shine.

For you were young, three hundred years ago;
And by your looks I guess that you were wise ...
Come, whisper soft, and Death will never know
You've slipped away from those calm, painted eyes.

Strange is your voice ... Poor ninny, dead so long,
And all your pride forgotten like your name.
One April morn I heard a blackbird's song.
And joy was in my heart like leaves aflame.

And so you died before your songs took wing;
While Andrew Marvell followed in your wake.
Love thrilled me into music. I could sing
But for a moment, - but for beauty's sake.

Who passes? There's a star-lit breeze that stirs
The glimmer of white lilies in the gloom.
Who speaks? Death has his silent messengers.
And there was more than silence in this room

While you were gazing at me from the wall
And wondering how you'd match your dreams with mine,
If, mastering time's illusion, you could call
Me back to share your vanished candle-shine.

This poem is in the public domain.


Siegfried Sassoon (1886 - 1967) was a British author and poet best known for his antiwar poetry. A heroic soldier who was respected by his superiors and beloved by his troops, he earned the nickname "Mad Jack" for his daring escapades during World War I. Despite his devoted patriotism and valiant service to his country, Siegfried found war abhorrent and published numerous collections of poetry that detailed and condemned its horrors. He was a lifelong cricket enthusiast and played the game well into old age. 


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