Friday Poem – In Hospital: Poona


This week’s poem is from Alun Lewis: Collected Poems, edited by Cary Archard, to celebrate Lewis’s centenary earlier this week. Lewis was one of the most compelling writers of the Second World War, whose premature death in 1944 – when he was only 28 – was a grave loss to Britain’s literature community.

For more information about Lewis, check out his website and find out everything you need to know about the continuing centenary celebrations on Twitter.

In Hospital: Poona

Last night I did not fight for sleep
But lay awake from midnight while the world
Turned its slow features to the moving deep
Of darkness, till I knew that you were furled,

Beloved, in the same dark watch as I.
And sixty degrees of longitude beside
Vanished as though a swan in ecstasy
Had spanned the distance from your sleeping side.

And like to swan or moon the whole of Wales
Glided within the parish of my care:
I saw the green tide leap on Cardigan,
Your red yacht riding like a legend there,
And the great mountains, Dafydd and Llewelyn,
Plynlimmon, Cader Idris and Eryri
Threshing the darkness back from head and fin,
And also the small nameless mining valley

Whose slopes are scratched with streets and
sprawling graves
Dark in the lap of firwoods and great boulders
Where you lay waiting, listening to the waves-
My hot hands touched your white despondent shoulders

– And then ten thousand miles of daylight grew
Between us, and I heard the wild daws crake
In India’s starving throat; whereat I knew
That Time upon the heart can break
But love survives the venom of the snake.

Order Alun Lewis: Collected Poems from our website.

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2 thoughts on “Friday Poem – In Hospital: Poona

  1. I feel fortunate to have been born and have grown up in a town a good deal of the Victorian wealth of which was brought back to “Blighty” by men and women of Empire Service in India (where Poona is), and whose bequests gave the town its first library and art gallery collections.
    Of course much of the very fine ivory collection I enjoyed seeing as a child is no longer on public display since ivory became a “No, No” for any curator to avoid embarrassment. That’s ludicrous to me as no elephants will be slaughtered all these years after the original carvings were created.

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