Friday Poetry: John Betjeman

Rob joins jo(e) and friends (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and no doubt many that I missed) in a new1 meme-y thing, Friday Poetry Blogging, that I like the look of.
Since his Collected is sitting on the desk in front of me, here’s Sir John:
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.
Out of this bright intentness
   into the mulberry shade
Musca domestica (housefly)
   swung from the August light
Slap into slithery rigging
   by the waiting spider made
Which spun the lithe elastic
   till the fly was shrouded tight.
Down came the hairy talons
   and horrible poison blade
And none of the garden noticed
   that fizzing, hopeless fight.
Say in what Cottage Hospital
   whose pale green walls resound
With the tap upon polished parquet
   of inflexible nurses’ feet
Shall I myself be lying
   when they range the screens around?
And say shall I groan in dying,
   as I twist the sweaty sheet?
Or gasp for breath uncrying,
   as I feel my senses drown’d
While the air is swimming with insects
   and children play in the street?

In a Bath Teashop

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