A poem to read in the bath… ‘Japanese Maple’

Most of us came to Australian broadcaster Clive James via his witty television programmes and writings. In recent years he has turned again to poetry. It is four years now since he was diagnosed with ‘the lot’: with leukaemia, emphysema and kidney failure. Now his poetry is full of dying – reflections on life and death – and the poems are beautiful and incredibly moving.


[photo: Rex Features]

‘Japanese Maple’ is about a tree, given to him by his daughter, and how witnessing the tree change through autumn signals a change for him. I defy you to listen to this, and not have moist eyes.

Because of copyright restrictions I am unable to reproduce the poem in full, but please search it out in an anthology or at your local library.

‘Japanese Maple’
Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:

Click here to listen to Clive James read ‘Japanese Maple’ for the BBC.
For recent poems by Clive James, visit his website here.
Listen here to Clive James talk about ‘taking life slowly’ [Interview: Radio 4’s ‘Today’ programme]



Sentenced to Life’ by Clive James [UK: Picador]

Read these other excerpts and find a new poet to love:-
‘Digging’ by Seamus Heaney
‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost
‘My Heart Leaps Up’ by William Wordsworth

And if you’d like to tweet a link to THIS post, here’s my suggested tweet:
A poem to think about: JAPANESE MAPLE by Clive James #poetry http://wp.me/p5gEM4-1Rp via @SandraDanby


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