English poetry

Poets Biographies Poem Themes Random Poem
The Rating of Poets The Rating of Poems

Poem by William Ernest Henley

In Hospital. 7. Vigil

Lived on ones back,
In the long hours of repose,
Life is a practical nightmare
Hideous asleep or awake.

Shoulders and loins
Ache - - - !
Ache, and the mattress,
Run into boulders and hummocks,
Glows like a kiln, while the bedclothes
Tumbling, importunate, daft
Ramble and roll, and the gas,
Screwed to its lowermost,
An inevitable atom of light,
Haunts, and a stertorous sleeper
Snores me to hate and despair.

All the old time
Surges malignant before me;
Old voices, old kisses, old songs
Blossom derisive about me;
While the new days
Pass me in endless procession:
A pageant of shadows
Silently, leeringly wending
On . . . and still on . . . still on!

Far in the stillness a cat
Languishes loudly.  A cinder
Falls, and the shadows
Lurch to the leap of the flame.  The next man to me
Turns with a moan; and the snorer,
The drug like a rope at his throat,
Gasps, gurgles, snorts himself free, as the night-nurse,
Noiseless and strange,
Her bulls eye half-lanterned in apron,
(Whispering me, Are ye no sleepin yet?),
Passes, list-slippered and peering,
Round . . . and is gone.

Sleep comes at last
Sleep full of dreams and misgivings
Broken with brutal and sordid
Voices and sounds that impose on me,
Ere I can wake to it,
The unnatural, intolerable day.

William Ernest Henley

William Ernest Henley's other poems:
  1. Echoes. 30. Kate-a-Whimsies, John-a-Dreams
  2. London Voluntaries. 4. Largo e Mesto
  3. In Hospital. 11. Clinical
  4. In Hospital. 9. Lady-Probationer
  5. In Hospital. 5. Operation

Poem to print Print


The Last Poems

To Russian version


English Poetry. E-mail eng-poetry.ru@yandex.ru