Poems by T. H. White

A Sampling


God is love, the parson whined.
Yes, and is he also blind?

        ALL FOR LOVE

God is love, the bishops tell.
Yes, I know, But love is hell.


Helen whose face was fatal must have wept
Many salt tears to keep her eyes so bright
Many long nights alone: and every night
Men died, she cried, and happy Paris kept
Sweet Helen.

I am that curst Paris.


Be kind, Helen, I am so tired of thinking;
There are so many difficult corridors of thought,
With equal iron banisters leading back again:
So many stone stairs, Helen, up which I sought
To rediscover the windy sky, and stand, blinking,
In the lost sunlight: as bright as pain,
Helen. I would give almost anything now
Even for pain. If one day down my iron avenues
The tubes and cubes, leading, at last, me right,
Should lose their remorseless patterns and diffuse
Into a kinder symmetry, and show me how
After a white hand pointing Exit, shine the stars at night:
Should I, appreciating the right gesture, fall dead?
I should walk out quietly and stand still
With the air in my hair and my feet in the wet dew,
Eternally motionless, without want, or will,
Not proud any more, Helen, of this poor head:
And I daresay even that's not true.

               LOOKING AT THE SKULL OF

This skull is the deserted egg of an extinct species,
Bleached, blown, and long past being stale or rotten,
A mineral remnant, one of the collector's pieces
In which the Dodo of the mind was once begotten.

I feel my own skull, through its warm and mobile coating
Of quick, comfortable hair and the neck's firm flesh,
Nestling in rosy enclosure, cushioned and cradled, floating
In the fruit's womb, a nutty kernel, a fledgling fresh.

How smoothly it articulates upon its nervous column,
Nourished with scarlet sap in the rich autumn!
How fruitfully it sniffs up balmy aromas through its five
  living issues,
Warm and ripening in its cradle of juicy tissues!

Strange but natural that my cosy kernel —
Its flesh fermented — must later bleach alone,
A fruit no longer, but self-sufficient: an eternal,
Hard-shrivelled, clean-nibbled, pleasant, peachless stone.

     TO MY SELF,

Little child
Who was me once,
My pity on you —
And reverence.

Terence, if I
Could return
My drear tideway
To your bright burn,

If we could meet
Where I once strayed,
The betrayer
And the betrayed.

If we could win back
In Time's defiance,
Would you be afeared of me,
Ten-year-old Terence?

No, you would not fear.
You would love, trust,
Cherish, admire
This tedious dust.

For oh! we were all brimming once
With the sun-sparkled dew.
One heart could have loved this hulk —
The ignorant heart of you.

Lloyds Bank Executor and Trustee Company (Channel Islands) Ltd,
the Trustees of the Estate of T. H. White, 1929, 1933, 1939, 1940.
All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Reproduction of the material in this document without permission of the copyright owner is strictly prohibited.

England Have My Bones: For the Reader of the Works of T. H. White
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Revised Saturday, 28-Sep-2002 22:11:49 CDT.