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Published: January 20th 2021
My old friend, Maurice Bradley, died on December 10th 2020. I have written a tribute to him, which can be found at https://www.travelblog.org/Asia/Vietnam/Southeast/Ho-Chi-Minh-City/District-Two/blog-1055933.html
I am a prose writer but, occasionally, I try my hand at poems. I was moved the other day to write a poem about Maurice.
In the first stanza I have borrowed and reworked lines from W. H. Auden’s great elegy ‘In Memory of W. B. Yeats
’. The same poem has inspired me to use rhyming couplets at the end.
If you want to listen to me reading my poem on Youtube, type in 'Maurice Bradley RIP' or go to this link:
Here is the text of my poem:
.Maurice Bradley RIP
You disappeared in the dead of winter,
In the night, in a hospital bed -
A strange bed, far from 30 Florence Road
Where you’d slept for 60 years.
It was your last night as yourself,
A night, no doubt, of confusion and memories.
Panic-stricken, you fought to keep
The life you held so dear,
But the provinces of your body revolted,
The squares of your mind emptied,
And silence invaded the suburbs.
When the current of your feeling failed,
You became your admirers.
I’m proud to be one of them,
To have sampled your kindness,
Modesty and wisdom.
You always made me welcome in your house,
Cooking for me, pouring finest Scotch.
Your erudition was understated but profound.
When you got started on the Ring Cycle
There was no stopping you!
And who could match your knowledge of the English stage?
Olivier, Gielgud, Wolfit, the two Redgraves
And, especially, Peggy – you’d seen them all.
That tea-chest upstairs,
Crammed with programmes from countless plays,
Was a symbol for your brain -
Teeming with theatrical lore.
Beneath the meek and unassuming front
You were quietly on fire,
A man of many passions,
A Renaissance man –
Reader, scholar, singer, classical music buff,
Church-lover, organist, historian,
And how you liked your beer:
Nothing better than a chinwag over a pint or three of Batham’s!
Living in foreign parts, I Iooked forward to your letters -
Handwritten, chatty chronicles of West Midlands life,
Ever-nostalgic for the plays of yesteryear.
Your final letter saluted Gielgud’s Prospero -
“So good I saw it three times at Stratford
And Scofield’s Lear – “dubbed ‘the leather Lear’ as they were costumed in leather
Writing those words,
Your razor-sharp mind
Trapped inside a dying body,
You had no inkling the end was close.
Your niece read my reply,
But by then you were too far gone.
All that knowledge
All that passion
All that wisdom
All that kindness
All those memories
Into the dustbin of time.
Life’s fitful fever’s over now;
The play has ended; take your bow.
92’s a grand old age
For a man to leave the stage.
Untimely death’s a cause for woe
But your great innings isn’t so.
You played your role impeccably -
A fulfilled life, we’d all agree.
Human lives must surely cease
So, Maurice Bradley, rest in peace. Kevin Mulqueen 18/01/2021
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