I’ve long been a fan of the talented Clive James – writer, humorist, broadcaster, and much more. His passion and curiosity for life is contagious, and he is a wonderful observer of things. Just hearing him talk makes you slow down and think a little more deeply about life and all it entails – joy, regrets, lessons learned.
Five years ago he was diagnosed with Leukemia, but thanks to experimental drugs, he continues on with his writing today, describing himself as “unreasonably well”.
During that period, he was inspired to write a beautiful, moving and inspiring poem called Japanese Maple. It’s a wonderful reminder to look up and appreciate all that is around us.
Your death, near now, is of an easy sort.
So slow a fading out brings no real pain.
Breath growing short
Is just uncomfortable. You feel the drain
Of energy, but thought and sight remain:
Enhanced, in fact. When did you ever see
So much sweet beauty as when fine rain falls
On that small tree
And saturates your brick back garden walls,
So many Amber Rooms and mirror halls?
Ever more lavish as the dusk descends
This glistening illuminates the air.
It never ends.
Whenever the rain comes it will be there,
Beyond my time, but now I take my share.
My daughter’s choice, the maple tree is new.
Come autumn and its leaves will turn to flame.
What I must do
Is live to see that. That will end the game
For me, though life continues all the same:
Filling the double doors to bathe my eyes,
A final flood of colors will live on
As my mind dies,
Burned by my vision of a world that shone
So brightly at the last, and then was gone.”
By Clive James