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Clive James reads …

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Thoughts on …

A touchingly personal reading by Clive James of Keith Douglas’ poem: Canoe

I imagine it is almost impossible for those of us with illnesses not to feel the brevity of life and empathise with thoughts of final moments, seasons and not being there for those that we love.

Lucky, those of us for whom this occurs at the end of a long, happy life … poignancy for those who die young.

‘It is my spirit that kisses your mouth lightly.’

Canoe by Keith Douglas:

Well, I am thinking this may be my last
summer, but cannot lose even a part
of pleasure in the old-fashioned art
of idleness. I cannot stand aghast

at whatever doom hovers in the background:
while grass and buildings and the somnolent river,
who know they are allowed to last forever,
exchange between them the whole subdued sound

of this hot time. What sudden fearful fate
can deter my shade wandering next year
from a return? Whistle and I will hear
and come again another evening, when this boat

travels with you alone toward Iffley:
as you lie looking up for thunder again,
this cool touch does not betoken rain;
it is my spirit that kisses your mouth lightly.

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