Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Bioethics Poetry, Another Dannie Abse Edition


And yet God has not said a word!
“Porphyria’s Lover,” R. Browning

Half asleep, you recalled a fading list
of girls’ sweet names. Now to old women
these names belong—some whom you tumbled and
in summer’s twilit lanes or hidden by heather.
You were a youth who never stayed long
for Gwen or for Joyce, for Rita or Ruth,
and there were others too, on a lower register.

Then, suddenly, a robust, scolding voice
changed your dream’s direction and the weather.
“That much morphia, doctor? Wrong, wrong.”

Surprised to discover your eyes still shut
you wondered which dead patient or what
(whose accusing son and when?) as any
trusted doctor would who did not murder
any pleading one with sovereign impunity.

“I found a thing to do,” said the lover
of Porphyria. Porphyria? Awake you add
the other pretty names too: Anuria,
Filaria, Leukaemia, Melanoma,
Sarcoma, Euthanasia, amen.

Dannie Abse

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