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This article is taken from PN Review 217, Volume 40 Number 5, May - June 2014.

Two Unpublished Poems C.H. Sisson
These two poems are taken from the notebooks C.H. Sisson kept during his wartime service in India, now held in the Bristol University Library Special Collections department (DM1275/1/8 Army notebooks, Miscellaneous 1943). The first, despite the Poundian allusion in its title, is influenced by the translations of Heine Sisson made in India. The title of the second is Japanese, and means (according to Sisson’s note) ‘before you know it’. Sisson had started to learn Japanese earlier in the war, before being posted to India, to assist with translating Japanese intelligence – hence the references to Japanese in poems such as ‘The Discarnation’ and ‘What a Piece of Work is Man’.

Choosing his Tomb (L’élection de son sépulcre)

You can put me down for six by three,
Six feet under, wherever it may be,
And with no claim to superficiary rights:
Only let me sleep the days as well as the nights.



Itsu no ma ni ka

In the interval of when
A pony & a lamp
The lamp I bought
For learning’s sake
In the interval of when
The pony that I rode
Under Aparwat
Through the woods & under the mountains
The shepherd said
Not all the year
I stay here
In the interval of when
Under the lid of the forest
The bare wall of mountain
To the left;
To the right the distant
Not ...


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