John Betjeman - Late Flowering Lust

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Nigel Hawthorn performs John Betjeman's poem Late Flowering Lust - From the 1993 BBC film Late Flowering Lust

Late Flowering Lust
by John Betjeman (1906-1984)

My head is bald, my breath is bad,
Unshaven is my chin,
I have not now the joys I had
When I was young in sin.

I run my fingers down your dress
With brandy-certain aim
And you respond to my caress
And maybe feel the same.

But I've a picture of my own
On this reunion night,
Wherein two skeletons are shewn
To hold each other tight;

Dark sockets look on emptiness
Which once was loving-eyed,
The mouth that opens for a kiss
Has got no tongue inside.

I cling to you inflamed with fear
As now you cling to me,
I feel how frail you are my dear
And wonder what will be —

A week? or twenty years remain?
And then — what kind of death?
A losing fight with frightful pain
Or a gasping fight for breath?

Too long we let our bodies cling,
We cannot hide disgust
At all the thoughts that in us spring
From this late-flowering lust.

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