Modern Verse in English, 1900-1950

By David Cecil; Allen Tate | Go to book overview

Under the strange, light-headed sea
That bears a straw of the nest.
Unless I make that melody,
How can the dead have rest?

Sheer from wide air to the wilderness
The victim fell, and lay;
The starlike bone is fathomless,
Lost among wind and spray.
This lonely, isolated thing
Trembles amid their sound.
I set my finger on the string
That spins the ages round.
But let it sleep, let it sleep
Where shell and stone are cast;
Its ecstasy the Furies keep,
For nothing here is past.
The perfect into night must fly;
On this the winds agree.
How could a blind rock satisfy
The hungers of the sea?


John Betjernan (Br. b. 1906)

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.

-502-

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