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Poem by Charlotte Mew
In Nunhead Cemetary
It is the clay what makes the earth stick to his spade; He fills in holes like this year after year; The others have gone; they were tired, and half afraid But I would rather be standing here; There is nowhere else to go. I have seen this place From the windows of the train that's going past Against the sky. This is rain on my face - It was raining here when I saw it last. There is something horrible about a flower; This, broken in my hand, is one of those He threw it in just now; it will not live another hour; There are thousands more; you do not miss a rose. One of the children hanging about Pointed at the whole dreadful heap and smiled This morning after THAT was carried out; There is something terrible about a child. We were like children last week, in the Strand; That was the day you laughed at me Because I tried to make you understand The cheap, stale chap I used to be Before I saw the things you made me see. This is not a real place; perhaps by-and-by I shall wake - I am getting drenched with all this rain: To-morrow I will tell you about the eyes of the Chrystal Palace train Looking down on us, and you will laugh and I shall see what you see again. Not here, not now. We said 'Not yet Across our low stone parapet Will the quick shadows of the sparrows fall. But still it was a lovely thing Through the grey months to wait for Spring With the birds that go a-gypsying In the parks till the blue seas call. And next to these, you used to care For the Lions in Trafalgar Square, Who'll stand and speak for London when her bell of Judgement tolls - And the gulls at Westminster that were The old sea-captains souls. To-day again the brown tide splashes step by step, the river stair, And the gulls are there! By a month we have missed our Day: The children would have hung about Round the carriage and over the way As you and I came out. We should have stood on the gulls' black cliffs and heard the sea And seen the moon's white track, I would have called, you would have come to me And kissed me back. You have never done that: I do not know Why I stood staring at your bed And heard you, though you spoke so low, But could not reach your hands, your little head; There was nothing we could not do, you said, And you went, and I let you go! Now I will burn you back, I will burn you through, Though I am damned for it we two will lie And burn, here where the starlings fly To these white stones from the wet sky - ; Dear, you will say this is not I - It would not be you, it would not be you! If for only a little while You will think of it you will understand, If you will touch my sleeve and smile As you did that morning in the Strand I can wait quietly with you Or go away if you want me to - God! What is God? but your face has gone and your hand! Let me stay here too. When I was quite a little lad At Christmas time we went half mad For joy of all the toys we had, And then we used to sing about the sheep The shepherds watched by night; We used to pray to Christ to keep Our small souls safe till morning light - ; I am scared, I am staying with you to-night - Put me to sleep. I shall stay here: here you can see the sky; The houses in the street are much too high; There is no one left to speak to there; Here they are everywhere, And just above them fields and fields of roses lie - If he would dig it all up again they would not die.
Charlotte Mew's other poems:
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