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Poetry Pleases: The Old Artist's Prayer

Caroline Glyn expresses the sombre reflections of a man nearing the end of his time.

Welcome, November. Welcome, the month of the dead.
Welcome, early dusk and crawling cold,
The brown decay of October's torrents of gold;
Now my dead are rising, and I am visited.
There is no life for them but what I give;
Old memories, loves, paintings: why, let them live,
Even if for a little I must die instead.

There are so many of them, to be loved and fed
By my old aching body and aching heart.
And, Lord God, are you with them, do you take that part?
The Living God, and do you come with the dead?
You are doing as always, taking place with the last,
The ruined and forgotten, the wreckage of the past.
Come then, you shall lie with them in my own cold bed.

I'm painting for them and for you now, ambers and red,
But my life, my sinews and mind, you are taking indeed,
The colours of comfort, that you pretend to need,
So that strength and death together through my body spread.
For though you are humble, though you have truly died,
Your blaze of fire and life cannot wholly hide.
The beating of risen blood is in my head.

Welcome, November and the murk. Welcome, I said.
What do I care for blurred and smarting eyes
If I can give shelter to the dead when they rise,
And if another asks it, too, the living and blessed?
He has filled it all with himself, the rain, the cold,
There is more life than I can see or hold.
And through my hand his flames and amber are shed.


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