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The Cottage Hospital

 At the end of a long-walled garden in a red provincial town,
A brick path led to a mulberry- scanty grass at its feet.
I lay under blackening branches where the mulberry leaves hung down Sheltering ruby fruit globes from a Sunday-tea-time heat.
Apple and plum espaliers basked upon bricks of brown; The air was swimming with insects, and children played in the street.
Out of this bright intentness into the mulberry shade Musca domestica (housefly) swung from the August light Slap into slithery rigging by the waiting spider made Which spun the lithe elastic till the fly was shrouded tight.
Down came the hairy talons and horrible poison blade And none of the garden noticed that fizzing, hopeless fight.
Say in what Cottage Hospital whose pale green walls resound With the tap upon polished parquet of inflexible nurses' feet Shall I myself by lying when they range the screens around? And say shall I groan in dying, as I twist the sweaty sheet? Or gasp for breath uncrying, as I feel my senses drown'd While the air is swimming with insects and children play in the street?

Poem by John Betjeman
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