Poem introduction

Apart from birds I've written quite a lot of poems about insects and similar creatures.

Song of the Death-Watch Beetle

Song of the Death-Watch Beetle

Here come I, the death-watch beetle
Chewing away at the great catherdral;

Gnawing the mediaeval beams
And the magnificent carved rood screen

Gorging on gospels and epistles
From the illuminated missals;

As once I ate the odes of Sappho
And the histories of Manetho,

The lost plays of Euripides
And all the thought of Parmenides.

The Sibyl's leaves which the wind scattered,
And great aunt Delia's love letters.

Turn down the lamp in the cooling room:
There stand I with my little drum.

Death. Watch. You are watching death.
Blow out the lamp with your last breath.


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

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Recordings

John Heath-Stubbs

John Heath-Stubbs Downloads

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