--- Siegfried Sassoon, in Limitations, quoted by Steven Pinker in The Stuff of Thought (2007), p. 151
Excerpt from the poem:
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.
. . .
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?...
. . .
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.