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.