The poets die like flies but I am lying slightly to one side,
Contented in my Spain or Siam, content too to keep my hide.
How well they wrote, those friends now fettered, how the Indo-Anglian tongue
Allowed them to be lovely-lettered, their lives lived when the world was young.
I’ll live and hold my words in, for I am wearied of hypothesis;
And, in place of getting glory, kisses take from my missis.
Then the world shone, by their showing; then publishers seemed to care;
Then calls for cheques of last year’s owing did not fall on empty air.
Then newspapers asked them for pieces; and printed them unchanged; and paid;
But now there are so many wheezes which make the craft a thrifty trade.
In a wilder whirl of weeklies, tabloids titting on page threes,
I will shirk my duty meekly and kisses take from my missis.
They did not care much what the world said: they taught it instead how to speak.
They did not, when a poem pleaded, to meetings go in Mozambique.
But I will stay my poems, spending strength now with a shriller pen
My theme and language both defending, to live fourscore years and ten.
And if it prove my prime is over, if I’ve no chance at wordly bliss
Why I will spurn so false a lover and kisses take from my missis.
This hand once penned those poems: never shall I find so true a friend.
I’ve a thirst for all forever, but the lines come to an end.
So Arun and Dom and Nissim – I will shun their hard-earned grief
And much though I will always miss ’em, in softer shadows find relief.
And when I’m ninety and young writers ask why I wrote no more than this
I will answer, “But, you blighters! I kisses took from my missis.”