The Mulberry Tree

The Mulberry Tree

'Good neighbour Michael Drayton, and you, Old Ben
Stepped up from London to our Warwickshire -
The air is balmy, so we'll drink tonight
under my mulberry tree, and hear the chimes.'

But English April's treacherous. Good ale and wine,
However generous they boast themselves,
Lower the temperature. The lurking microbe
Is everywhere, and waiting for its chance.

Death's always bitter - and pneumonia,
Though not the worst, isn't a cosy end.
But this, at least, was after a good party -
Drinking with friends. And who wouldn't like to have been
A caterpillar among those mulberry leaves,
To catch some of the talk that drifted upwards,
And pass it on when one had turned a moth.


from Collected Poems (Carcanet, 1988), copyright © John Heath-Stubbs 1988, used by permission of the author.

Recordings

John Heath-Stubbs

John Heath-Stubbs Reading from his poems

1Mozart

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2Purkis

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3A Crow in Bayswater

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4Christus Natus Est

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5The Frog and the Nightingale

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6Wishes for the Months

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7The Lady’s Complaint

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8Girl with Marionettes

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9Plato and the Waters of the Flood

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10When Sappho Loved

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11The Timeless Nightingale

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12The Poet of Bray

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13Inscription for a Scented Garden for the Blind

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14The Tree-Creeper

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15The Carrion Crow

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16The Stonechat

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17The Blackcap

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18Ibycus

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19Song of the Death-Watch Beetle

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20Flea

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21Inscription for a Sundial

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22A Jellicle Cat

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23The Mulberry Tree

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24The Ghost of Gruesome Towers

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25A Ballad of the Piltdown Man

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26At the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea

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27A Ballad of Trafalgar Square

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28Sonnet

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29Ockham’s Razor

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30A Christmas Rose

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Books by John Heath Stubbs