Your dying was a difficult enterprise.
First, petty things took up your energies,
The small but clustering duties of the sick,
Irritant as the cough’ s dry rhetoric.
Those hours of waiting for pills, shot, X-ray
Or test (while you read novels two a day)
Already with a kind of clumsy stealth
Distanced you from the habits of your health.
In hope still, courteous still, but tired and thin,
Your dying was a difficult enterprise.
How difficult it is to say goodbye
to scourge. For years we were obsessed with you,
your complex glycoproteins and your sly,
haphazard reproduction, your restraint
in your resistance, how you bathed so slight
yet fierce in our most intimate secretions.
We will remember you for generations;
electron micrographs of you seem quaint
already, in the moment of our victory.
How difficult it is to claim one’ s right
to living honestly. The honesty
you taught was nothing quite as true
Over the rim of the glass
Containing a good martini with a twist
I eye her bosom and consider a pass,
Certain we’ d not be missed
In the general hubbub.
Her lips, which I forgot to say, are superb,
Never stop babbling once (Aye, there’ s the rub)
But who would want to curb
That Whitsun, I was late getting away:
Not till about
One-twenty on the sunlit Saturday
Did my three-quarters-empty train pull out,
All windows down, all cushions hot, all sense
Of being in a hurry gone. We ran
Behind the backs of houses, crossed a street
Of blinding windscreens, smelt the fish-dock; thence
The river’ s level drifting breadth began,
Where sky and Lincolnshire and water meet.
This is only a note
To say how sorry I am
You died. You will realize
What a position it puts
Me in. I couldn’ t really
Have died for you if so
I were inclined. The carn
Foxglove here on the wall
Outside your first house
Leans with me standing
In the Zennor wind.
One morn I left him in his bed;
A moment after some one said,
‘Your child is dying – he is dead.’
We made him ready for his rest,
Flowers in his hair, and on his breast
His little hands together prest.
We sailed by night across the sea;
So, floating from the world were we,
Apart from sympathy, we Three.
The wild sea moaned, the black clouds spread
Moving shadows on its bed,
But one of us lay midship dead.
I saw his coffin sliding down
The yellow sand in yonder town,
Where I put on my sorrow’ s crown.
What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
By this he knew she wept with waking eyes:
That, at his hand's light quiver by her head,
The strange low sobs that shook their common bed
Were called into her with a sharp surprise,
And strangled mute, like little gaping snakes,
Dreadfully venomous to him. She lay
Stone-still, and the long darkness flowed away
With muffled pulses. Then, as midnight makes
Her giant heart of Memory and Tears
Drink the pale drug of silence, and so beat
Sleep's heavy measure, they from head to feet
There’ s a clever thing, stabs at her hand
on every corner now, revising the screed.
Watch her huff at the tiny screens that send
her chimpish copy up the line, to speed
the raising of the giddy, pixelled hall:
cornerless, mirror-tiled, the gorging sphere
a fast-receding shell enclosing all
we say or see, never to disappear,
bigger with each second, and the next,
its facets auto-replicant, until
the Record of what was — each fingered text
and pic, the starry shards the hours distill —
From Daddy sprung my inborn ribaldry.
His crudeness destined me to be the same.
A seedlet, flowered from a shitty heap,
I came, the crowning glory of his aim.
From Mother I inherited ennui,
The leg irons of the queendom I once rattled.
But I won’ t let such chains imprison me.
And there is just no telling what this brat’ ll...!
This marriage thing? We snub our nose at it.
What’ s pearl turns piss, what’ s classy breeds what’ s smutty.
But like it? Lump it? Neither’ s exigent.
And I’ m the end result of all that fucking.