The Australian writer, comic and raconteur Clive James was at the peak of his powers some years ago and has been out of the public eye recently because he is dying, sadly, from a chronic lung disease which ambushed him late in life.
But Clive has not lost all his sparkle just yet and wrote this lovely poem about a Japanese Maple tree, a gift from his daughter, which he wants to see change colour one last time.
So I salute Clive and hope he gets his last wish because he has felt like a friend over the years with his great love of words and irrepressible sense of humour.
Poem: Japanese Maple
Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:
Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?
Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.
My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that. That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same:
Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colors will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.