Wednesday 4 January 2012


John Smeaton's blog reminds me that Lord Falconer is due to publish his dodgy euthanasia report tomorrow.

Many years ago, I had the privilege of meeting a Catholic Poet, Elizabeth Jennings (1926 - 2001).  She was fascinating, not least because her conversation (full of non sequiturs, interrupting self with multiple sub-clauses) was so different from her poetry (formal, precise, concise).

Here is her poem, Euthanasia:

The law's been passed and I am lying low 
Hoping to hide from those who think they are 
Kindly, compassionate. My step is slow. 
I hurry. Will the executioner 
Be watching how I go? 

Others about me clearly feel the same. 
The deafest one pretends that she can hear. 
The blindest hides her white stick while the lame 
Attempt to stride. Life has become so dear. 
Last time the doctor came, 

All who could speak said they felt very well. 
Did we imagine he was watching with 
A new deep scrutiny? We could not tell. 
Each minute now we think the stranger Death 
Will take us from each cell 

For that is what our little rooms now seem 
To be. We are prepared to bear much pain, 
Terror attacks us wakeful, every dream 
Is now a nightmare. Doctor's due again.
We hold on to the gleam 

Of sight, a word to hear. We act, we act, 
And doing so we wear our weak selves out. 
We said, "We want to die" once when we lacked 
The chance of it. We wait in fear and doubt. 
O life, you are so packed 

With possibility. Old age seems good. 
The ache, the anguish - we could bear them we 
Declare. The ones who pray plead with their God 
To turn the murdering ministers away, 
But they come softly shod.

Elizabeth Jennings

1 comment:

Patricius said...

Thanks for this excellent poem. I'm going to pinch it!