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Image by Caroline Forbes

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 Reading from his poems

1Mozart

2Purkis

3A Crow in Bayswater

4Christus Natus Est

5The Frog and the Nightingale

6Wishes for the Months

7The Lady’s Complaint

8Girl with Marionettes

9Plato and the Waters of the Flood

10When Sappho Loved

11The Timeless Nightingale

12The Poet of Bray

13Inscription for a Scented Garden for the Blind

14The Tree-Creeper

15The Carrion Crow

16The Stonechat

17The Blackcap

18Ibycus

19Song of the Death-Watch Beetle

20Flea

21Inscription for a Sundial

22A Jellicle Cat

23The Mulberry Tree

24The Ghost of Gruesome Towers

25A Ballad of the Piltdown Man

26At the Dylan Thomas Centre, Swansea

27A Ballad of Trafalgar Square

28Sonnet

29Ockham’s Razor

30A Christmas Rose

Books by John Heath-Stubbs