Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, SICK BED, by EDMUND CHARLES BLUNDEN

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SICK BED, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Half dead with fever here in bed I sprawl
Last Line: My face in pillows, praying for merciful sleep.
Alternate Author Name(s): Blunden, Edmund
Subject(s): Books; Sickness; Reading; Illness

HALF dead with fever here in bed I sprawl,
In candlelight watching the odd flies crawl
Across the ceiling's bleak white desolation; --
Can they not yet have heard of gravitation? --
Hung upside down above the precipice
To doze the night out; ignorance is bliss!
Your blood be on your heads, ridiculous flies.

Dizzying with these, I glare and tantalize
At the motley hides of books which moulder here,
"On Choosing A Career," "Ten Thousand a Year";
"Ellis on Sheep," "Lamb's Tales," a doleful Gay,
A has-been-Young, dead "Lives," vermilion Gray,
And a whole corps of 1790 twelves.
My eye goes blurred along these gruesome shelves,
My brain whirs Poems of ... Poems of ... like a clock;
And I stare for my life at the square black ebony block
Of darkness in the open window-frame.
Then my thoughts flash in one white searching flame
On my little lost daughter; I gasp and grasp to see
Her shy smile pondering out who I might be,
Her rathe-ripe rounded cheeks, near-violet eyes.
Long may I stare; her stony Fate denies
The vision of her, though tired Fancy's sight
Scrawl with pale curves the dead and scornful night.

All the night's full of questing flights and calls
Of owls and bats, white owls from time-struck walls,
Bats with their shrivelled speech and dragonish wings.
Beneath, a strange step crunches the ash path where
None goes so late, I know: the mute vast air
Wakes to a great sigh.
Now the murmurings,
Cricks, rustlings, knocks, all forms of tiny sound
That have long been happening in my room half-heard,
Grow fast and fierce, each one a ghostly word.
I feel the grutching pixies hedge me round;
"Folly" sneers courage (and flies). Stealthily creaks
The threshold, fingers fumble, terror speaks,
And bursting into sweats I muffle deep
My face in pillows, praying for merciful sleep.

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