April 2009

Arts & Letters

Beachmaster

By Clive James

Scanning the face of a crestfallen wave
He sees his life collapsing to a close,
A foaming comber racing to its grave.
But after that one, there are all of those:

The ranks of the unbroken, the young men
Completely green, queuing to take their turn
To die so that the sea might live again.
That much it took him all his life to learn.

Propped on her elbow in the burning sand,
The latest Miss Australia views it all
As one vast courtship. With a loving hand
She strokes her thigh as one by one they fall,

Those high walls in the water. Look at her,
But shade your sad glance carefully, old man -
For she will never see you as you were,
A long way out, before the end began.

Clive James

Clive James was an author, critic, broadcaster and poet. He wrote more than 20 books, including his memoir, The Blaze of Obscurity, and a collection of essays, The Revolt of the Pendulum.

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