Verse > Siegfried Sassoon > The Old Huntsman and Other Poems
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Siegfried Sassoon (1886–1967).  The Old Huntsman and Other Poems.  1918.

41. Ancestors


BEHOLD these jewelled, merchant Ancestors, 
Foregathered in some chancellery of death; 
Calm, provident, discreet, they stroke their beards 
And move their faces slowly in the gloom, 
And barter monstrous wealth with speech subdued,         5
Lustreless eyes and acquiescent lids. 
  And oft in pauses of their conference, 
  They listen to the measured breath of night’s 
  Hushed sweep of wind aloft the swaying trees 
  In dimly gesturing gardens; then a voice  10
  Climbs with clear mortal song half-sad for heaven. 
  
A silent-footed message flits and brings 
The ghostly Sultan from his glimmering halls; 
A shadow at the window, turbaned, vast, 
He leans; and, pondering the sweet influence  15
That steals around him in remembered flowers, 
Hears the frail music wind along the slopes, 
Put forth, and fade across the whispering sea. 


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