Saturday, August 02, 2014

dreaming of sudden death

Not too long ago I read Siegfried Sassoon's fictionalized Memoirs of a Fox-Hunting Man which comes to a close in 1915 when he puts on the uniform of a second lieutenant of the Royal Welsh Fusiliers. This entry from a diary he kept comes from December 2nd of that year. The book is mainly about his love of outdoor sports, particularly cricket and cross-country horse racing. December 2nd's brief statement concerning an attempt to make a horse jump a ditch is in keeping with both the youthful yest for life that permeates the book and its understated humor.

Quiet day. ... Tried to make black pony jump a ditch and failed utterly. Saw a heron, which sailed slowly away across the misty flats of ploughed land, gray, still evening, gleaming dykes, willows and poplars; a few lights here and there as we rode home, and flicker of star shells in the sky beyond Bethune—Robert Graves lent me his M.S. poems to read: some very bad, violent and repulsive. A few full of promise and real beauty. He ought'nt to publish yet. ... Moving again to-morrow. Very wet night. I dreamed of a sudden death!

The public institution that holds the diary from which this image comes has asserted copyright protection for its digital images. It insists that one must pay a fee to use them. No distinction is made between commercial reproduction and personal or educational use. It's common enough, but always discouraging when an organization dedicated to serving the public restricts the use of cultural resources (particularly ones such as Sassoon's diary entries that are more than a century old) by means such as this. In any event, I am claiming the right to show you this page under fair use provisions of US copyright law.

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