I waited to post until Thatcher was out of hospital. Didn't want to seem to be gloating on her frailty.
Influenza: from the influence of stars
Whose light departed many years ago.
A dim ward and the folded cloths
Lifting and falling with each hard-won breath
Insensate. More insensate then before.
Because we are all animals
Keep breathing, pitiless;
Your armour was your unconsciousness.
Labour to sustain the life
You wanted to diminish;
Now tidy weakness away like cutlery.
I lift my head in formal memory
Under a waterfall of dirty college light.
Students frozen in innocence
Angels on Jacob's ladder
Yogasundram calling down three floors
'Alison, she has gone!'
So I have lived past her, I thought
But that was almost twenty years ago
She sleeps and we are living in her dream.
Perhaps they’ll say ‘she’s gone’ again today,
Enacting a remembrance,
As freezing persons recollect the snow,
First chill, then stupor, then the letting go.
The Fall of Rome
by WH Auden
The piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.
Fantastic grow the evening gowns;
Agents of the Fisc pursue
Absconding tax defaulters through
The sewers of provincial towns.
Private rites of magic send
The temple prostitutes to sleep;
All the literati keep
An imaginary friend.
Cerebretonic Cato may
Extol the Ancient Disciplines,
But the muscle-bound Marines
Mutiny for food and pay.
Caesar's double-bed is warm
As an unimportant clerk
Writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK
On a pink official form.
Unendowed with wealth or pity,
Little birds with scarlet legs,
Sitting on their speckled eggs,
Eye each flu-infected city.
Altogether elsewhere, vast
Herds of reindeer move across
Miles and miles of golden moss,
Silently and very fast.
PS I am that clerk