In me, past, present, future meet，
My lusts usurp the present tense
And strangle Reason in his seat.
My loves leap through the future’s fence
To dance with dream-enfranchised feet.
In me the cave-man clasps the seer,
And garlanded Apollo goes
Chanting to Abraham’s deaf ear.
In me the tiger sniffs the rose.
Look in my heart, kind friends, andtremble,
Since there your elements assemble.
Thoughts on human nature
—In Me, Past, Present, Future Meet (Siegfried Sassoon)
In the poem In Me, Past, Present, Future Meet by Siegfried Sassoon, there is an excellent line goes “In me the tiger sniffs the rose”，which became his most popular and most widely known line, at the same time, brought various of interpretations and speculations on it. Tiger represents the one side of human nature, that is the manliness, fierceness and conquer-loving，while rose symbolizes the another side: the femininity, morbidezza and vulnerability. The two sides seem contradict each other, however, the poet was so sagacious and prudent that have found the compatibility and intercommunion between them. The deep human nature as well as their inner relationship was vividly disclosed by Sassoon in such a short sentence which gets the very different two things together，and result in a strong contrast that underline the double-sides of human nature. A person, no matter his character, field and status does entertain both sides. He would play the role of “tiger” at one time, and would play the role of “rose” at another time. Even the “tiger” can sometimes appreciate the beauty and goodness, even an ambitious heart can enjoy the quietness, and even the evil soul can show tender feelings. Sassoon leapfrogged the argument of people being inherently good and people being inherently bad，gave his own special thoughts on human nature.
The poet began his croon with the lines as followed: “In me, past, present, future meet, To hold long chiding conference” which has at first echoing the title, so that guide readers into the poet more easily and naturally. And more important, it indicates that the poet was reflecting on his own life, there was a continuing argument among the three—-the past, present and future, which used the metaphor to give us a vivid image of the poet’s mind. Sassoon then, went further, revealed the inner world of his past, present and future tense one by one in details, as: “My lusts usurp the present tense, And strangle Reason in his seat”. He was trapped into the inescapable prison of various desires then, which killed his reason. This also shows that the endless desires of human beings can make men crazy and reasonless. Then he looked forward to the future and dreaming the freedom by saying that “My loves leap through the future’s fence, To dance with dream-enfranchised feet”. He desired to break through the current situation and looked for the bright future. Sassoon is the famous anti-war poet and writer who had ever joined the First World War; therefore he has the deepest feelings of war. The times he lived was filled with wars. War, as we all agreed, is just the so called hegemonists’ —the greed and ambitious politicians’ games and tools. Obviously, it brings no benefits to the numerous ordinary peoples.
Here in the second verse, the poet in his own perspective, revealed the weakness of human nature. “In me the cave-man clasps the seer, And garlanded Apollo goes, Chanting to Abraham’s deaf ear”. This line implies the poet’s doubt to peoples of that period in which he lived. Cave-man is man of this kind which we always considered them as the primitive and uncivilized one, but they clasp the seer, they are wiser than so called highly civilized modern people. They are more nature and more innocent than modern people are. What we believed the development and improvement of human beings may in fact to be the regression. Apollo the God of light represents the justice and the bright side of life, but oddly enough to sing to the deaf ear of Abraham—the elected people blessed by god. Ironically enough, it disclosed the self-glorification, ignorance and deafness of modern people (here Abraham with deaf ear just refers to modern people) who thoroughly reject the lightness and enlightenment from the bright side (here is the garlanded Apollo), and fall deeply into the endless power scramble, material pursuit and desire outlet. Then goes the immortal line: “In me the tiger sniffs the rose”. My strong heart is tremblingly sniff the delicate flowers, my long—struggling and tired soul eggers for the wonderful life and the nature beauties. Although the poet won many merits on the battlefields, he was extremely tired of the relentless killing and awful cruelness; the overmuch experiences of war made him badly need the peace and comfort.
The last line resonates with readers and calls the readers’ attention, “Look in my heart, kind friends, and tremble, Since there your elements assemble”. Sassoon uncovered his own heart, figured out the common features, especially the evil side of human nature and that gears to the point of view “in me”, directly and affirmably to point out the fact, “you, every single member of the modern people, please look into your heart, you are just the same as me, there are “illness” as I has which may makes you trembling. The sentence in sincere and peaceful mood, call the readers the “kind friend”, is indeed conveys the strong hope, “wake up, my kind friend, look at your heart, be reasonable instead of being material pursuit and desires-addicted. The way our world goes now is completely wrong. We should change it altogether!”
Apart from its profound meaning and deep thought, there are something else worth tasting and appreciating. Such as the rhymes in the first verse, there are “meet, seat, feet” pronounced [iːt] and “conference, tense, fence” pronounced [s]; in the second verse there are “seer, ear” pronounced [ɪə], “goes, rose” pronounced [z] and “assemble, tremble” pronounced [bl]. All these make the poem more readable. Besides, there are parallelism and contrast, which conveys a more profound message. The poet gives his own thoughts on human nature based on his experience, exposes the human nature of modern people: the lusts, double-side character and self-glorification, etc. Above all, to alert modern people of reflect on their behaviors. In a word, it is an excellent work both in form and thoughts.