‘Angina Pectoris’ by Graham Greene

by | March 30, 2015

A Fragment

‘But Doctor,’ he was saying in his sleep,
And turned a petulant head upon the pillow;
‘But Doctor, any day? —a cry, a fall,
Surfeit of food, a bath too hot—
And once I thought to end with dignity,
A trumpet crying out behind the hill,
Wet feet that pass through murmuring meadow grass,
A little smoke that drafts across the moon…
And now perhaps go guzzled to my God,
With too many oysters for the heart to hold,
And vomit out upon the glassy sea.
He woke when the sun swept through the yellow holland
To make a candle of his turned-up nose,
And leave a halo round the hyacinths.
He breathed again in a glorious relief,
Whispering ‘It was a dream and it is over.’
Then sick again and trembling in the head,
‘It was a dream that’s true.’ So he lay long.
There seemed no reason why he should arise,
And choose tie, socks, traditional shoes.
If he lay still and quiet, did not stir
Even to wipe the moisture from his nose,
He might live longer by a score of hours,
Twelve hundred minutes, seconds uncountable­
And oh, that strip of light across the room.
The notes came dancing up the golden stair,
Ginked lengthways at him with pencilled, pin-point eyes,
Took his applause, contemptuously were gone,
A bird was singing in the elder tree.
A bee beat buzzing up against the pane.



June 3, 1925