In Memory of John Keats        

I see you battling with a butcher boy

To save a cat from torture, and I see

You, dressed for travel, stop at Wordsworth’s house

And leave a message by the mirror. Why

These and not some other scenes? The sea

Washes where it will. Idly, the wind blows.


And poetry, you know, is not the same

As prose. Your letters, living like a sketch

Made suddenly by an evening fire, tell more,

Perhaps, than does the deep-cut marble rhyme

Suspended where the frieze extends to match

Its infinite progression through the air.


Yet poems are wanted. All can give the news.

Your letters only would but charm away

Winchester some Sunday afternoon, old

Cold rooms removed, with you there, laughing, as

I took your thoughts about that gloomy grey

Disconsolate uncherished town as told.


You are majestic, priestlike, when you write

Your poems and they give back your image like

Gold clarified by fire. Again I see

You, David - prophet, poet, saint - whose light

Leaps round you, dancing, as you, tiptoe, make

The giant of failure fall to poetry.


O most delightful of those called by God

To write their names in water to His glory,

How you have triumphed once your death had done

Its saving work and you might, holy, add

Laurel to laurel from your crowning history;

One further leaf, and with affection, John.