Sporting Acquaintances

I watched old squatting Chimpanzee: he traced
His painful patterns in the dirt: I saw
Red-haired Ourang-utang, whimsical-faced,
Chewing a sportsman's meditative straw:
I'd met them years ago, and half-forgotten
They'd come to grief (but how, I'd never heard,
Poor beggars!); still, it seemed so rude and rotten
To stand and gape at them with never a word.

I ventured 'Ages since we met,' and tried
My candid smile of friendship; no success.
One scratched his hairy thigh, while t'other sighed
And glanced away. I saw they liked me less
Than when, on Epsom Downs, in cloudless weather,
We backed The Tetrarch and got drunk together.

by Siegfried Sassoon

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