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Robert Graves (1895–1985). Fairies and Fusiliers. 1918.

15. The Cottage

HERE in turn succeed and rule

Carter, smith, and village fool,

Then again the place is known

As tavern, shop, and Sunday-school;

Now somehow it’s come to me

To light the fire and hold the key,

Here in Heaven to reign alone.

All the walls are white with lime,

Big blue periwinkles climb

And kiss the crumbling window-sill;

Snug inside I sit and rhyme,

Planning, poem, book, or fable,

At my darling beech-wood table

Fresh with bluebells from the hill.

Through the window I can see

Rooks above the cherry-tree,

Sparrows in the violet bed,

Bramble-bush and bumble-bee,

And old red bracken smoulders still

Among boulders on the hill,

Far too bright to seem quite dead.

But old Death, who can’t forget,

Waits his time and watches yet,

Waits and watches by the door.

Look, he’s got a great new net,

And when my fighting starts afresh

Stouter cord and smaller mesh

Won’t be cheated as before.

Nor can kindliness of Spring,

Flowers that smile nor birds that sing,

Bumble-bee nor butterfly,

Nor grassy hill nor anything

Of magic keep me safe to rhyme

In this Heaven beyond my time.

No! for Death is waiting by.