Henry Reed

(22 February 1914 - 8 December 1986 / Birmingham)

Chard Whitlow


(Mr. Eliot's Sunday Evening Postscript)

As we get older we do not get any younger.
Seasons return, and to-day I am fifty-five,
And this time last year I was fifty-four
And this time next year I shall be sixty-two.
And I cannot say I should like (to speak for myself)
To see my time over again - if you can call it time:
Fidgeting uneasily under a draughty stair,
Or counting sleepless nights in the crowded tube.

There are certain precautions - though none of them very reliable -
Against the blast from bombs and the flying splinter,
But not against the blast from heaven, vento dei venti,
The wind within a wind unable to speak for wind;
And the frigid burnings of purgatory will not be touched
By any emollient.
I think you will find this put,
Better than I could ever hope to express it,
In the words of Kharma: 'It is, we believe,
Idle to hope that the simple stirrup-pump
Will extinguish hell.'
Oh, listeners,
And you especially who have turned off the wireless,
And sit in Stoke or Basingstoke listening appreciatively to
the silence,
(Which is also the silence of hell) pray, not for your skins,
but for your souls.

And pray for me also under the draughty stair.
As we get older we do not get any younger.
And pray for Kharma under the holy mountain.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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