Monday, 30 October 2017

SIR JOHN BETJEMAN’S THE COTTAGE HOSPITAL



At the end of a long- walled garden
In a red provincial town,
A brick path led to a mulberry-
Scanty grass at its feet.

I lay under blackening branches
Where the mulberry leaves hung down
Sheltering ruby fruit globes
From a Sunday –tea –time heat
Apple and plum espaliers
Basked upon bricks of brown;
The air was swimming with insects,
And children played in the street.

Out of this bright intentness
Into the mulberry shade
Musca domestica (house fly)
Swung from the August light
Slap into slithery rigging
By the waiting spider made
Which spun the lithe elastic
Till the fly was shrouded tight.
Down came the hairy talons
And horrible poison blade
And none of the garden noticed
That fizzing, hopeless fight.


Say in what cottage hospital
Whose pale green walls resound
With the tap upon polished parquet
Of inflexible nurse’s feet
Shall I myself be lying
When they range the screens around?
And say shall I groan in dying,
As twist the sweaty sheet?
Or gasy for breath uncrying,
As I feel my senses drown’d
While the air is swimming with insects

And children play in the street.

No comments:

Post a Comment