A Child Ill…

It’s National Poetry Day, so I thought I’d post the first poem that I can remember that really spoke to me. My English teacher gave me a book of John Betjeman’s work and this one stood out, particularly as my little brother was sick at the time:

Oh little body, do not die.
The soul looks out through wide blue eyes
So questioningly into mine,
That my tormented soul replies
“Oh little body, do not die
You hold the soul that talks to me,
Although our conversation be
As wordless as the windy sky.”

So looked my father at the last,
Right in my soul before he died,
Though words we spoke went heedless past
As London traffic-roar outside.
And now the same blue eyes I see
Look through me from a little son,
So questioningly, so searchingly
That youthfulness and age are one.

My father looked at me and died
Before my soul made full reply.
Lord, leave this other light alight
Oh little body, do not die.

(‘A Child Ill’ – John Betjeman)