Saturday, September 20, 2014

'Japanese Maple' by Clive James

'Japanese Maple' is an achingly beautiful poem, worthy of reflection, by Clive James.

I'm reminded of Martyn Lloyd-Jones' comment to his daughter Elizabeth on the beauty of Tennyson's 'Crossing the Bar' as literature, but it's failure when it came to giving hope. Or again, as C S Lewis said in criticism of Rudyard Kipling, what was lacking was a 'doctrine of Ends', and what was left, in place of it, was 'a reverent Pagan agnosticism about all ultimates'.

Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.So slow a fading out brings no real pain.Breath growing shortIs just uncomfortable. You feel the drainOf energy, but thought and sight remain:
Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever seeSo much sweet beauty as when fine rain fallsOn that small treeAnd saturates your brick back garden walls,So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?
Ever more lavish as the dusk descendsThis 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 doIs live to see that. That will end the gameFor me, though life continues all the same:
Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,A final flood of colors will live onAs my mind dies,Burned by my vision of a world that shoneSo brightly at the last, and then was gone.