Sunday, November 07, 2010

Turn Back

The beetle clicks and ticks like a clock as it lies in the woodwork burrowing. It's called the Death-Watch beetle, heard in the quiet of the night. Reset the clock. Turn it back.

Song of the Death-Watch Beetle

Here come I, the death-watch beetle
Chewing away at the great cathedral;

Gnawing the mediaeval beams
And the magnificent carved rood screen

Gorging on gospels and epistles
From the illuminated missals;

As once I ate the odes of Sappho
And the histories of Manetho,

The lost plays of Euripides
And all the thought of Parmenides.

The Sibyl's leaves which the wind scattered,
And great aunt Delia's love letters.

Turn down the lamp in the cooling room:
There stand I with my little drum.

Death. Watch. You are watching death.
Blow out the lamp with your last breath.

John Heath-Stubbs, (1918 - 2006)

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