Monday, February 28, 2011

Poetry Monday

Death in Leamington

by John Betjeman

She died in the upstairs bedroom
    By the light of the ev’ning star
That shone through the plate glass window
    From over Leamington Spa.

Beside her the lonely crochet
    Lay patiently and unstirred,
But the fingers that would have work’d it
    Were dead as the spoken word.

And Nurse came in with the tea-things
    Breast high ‘mid the stands and chairs—
But Nurse was alone with her own little soul,
    And the things were alone with theirs.

She bolted the big round window,
    She let the blinds unroll,
She set a match to the mantle,
     She covered the fire with coal.

And “Tea!” she said in a tiny voice
    “Wake up! It’s nearly five.”
Oh! Chintzy, chintzy cheeriness,
    Half dead and half alive!

Do you know that the stucco is peeling?
    Do you know that the heart will stop?
From those yellow Italianate arches
    Do you hear the plaster drop?

Nurse looked at the silent bedstead,
    At the gray, decaying face,
As the calm of a Leamington ev’ning
    Drifted into the place.

She moved the tables of bottles
    Away from the bed to the wall;
And tiptoeing gently over the stairs
    Turned down the gas in the hall.

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