Sunday 2 August 2015

Japanese Maple

There was a lovely edition of Radio 4's poetry programme The Echo Chamber today. Paul Farley talked to Clive James, who also read some of his latest poetry. 

One of those latest poems apparently went, as Paul put it, "as close to viral as a poem ever has in a medium even more inescapable than TV" - namely (and get the garlic out quick!) Twitter.

That poem was Japanese Maple. And as this is a social media platform, I think it's only right to help it go even more viral: 

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain: 
Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls? 
Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share. 
My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that. That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same: 
Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colours will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.


  1. Yes, after years of producing doggerel (remember the embarrassingly fawning verse about the royals?) he's ended up a fine poet!

    1. I'd forgotten about that. Yes, it wasn't good, was it? But, as someone once said, all's well that ends well.

      His website has more such poems.

      I've quoted this before, but it's worth re-quoting:

      My daughter’s garden has a goldfish pool
      With six fish, each a little finger long.
      I stand and watch them following their rule
      Of never touching, never going wrong:
      Trajectories as perfect as plain song.


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