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Letter to S.S. from Mametz Wood

Written by: Robert Graves | Biography
 | Quotes (8) |
 I never dreamed we’d meet that day 
In our old haunts down Fricourt way, 
Plotting such marvellous journeys there 
For jolly old “Apr?s-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
Snowden and Hebog capped with white, 
And lots of other jolly 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 Ben and Claire once built for them;
They call it S?ar 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 thumbprint close behind. 
You’ll see where Math, Mathonwy’s son, 
Spoke with the wizard Gwydion 
And bad him from 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 awhile, 
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 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 jolly peasants clad in furs 
Will greet the Welch-ski officers 
With open arms, and ere we pass
Will make us vocal with Kavasse. 
In old Bagdad we’ll call a halt 
At the S?shuns’ 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!