O Michael, you are at once the enemy
And the chief ornament of our garden,
Scrambling up rose-posts, nibbling at nepeta,
Making your lair where tender plants should flourish,
Or proudly couchant on a sun-warmed stone.
What do you do all night there,
When we seek our soft beds’
And you, old roisterer,
Away in the dark?
I think you play at leopards and panthers
I think you wander on to foreign properties:
But on winter mornings you are a lost orphan
Pitifully wailing underneath our windows;
And in summer by the open doorway,
You come in pad, pad, lazily, to breakfast,
Plumy tail waving with a fine swagger.
Like a drum major, or a parish beadle,
Like a rich rajah, or a grand mogul.
At the time of a major earthquake it is hard to find an appropriate poem. At times of crisis I seek solace in the garden. Gardens to me should always have a cat. They add a feel to the place. So I turn to Ursula Bethell whose poems reflect a tranquility that reflects my memory of Christchurch. Contentment in a Canterbury home.
The 2018 Book Council Lecture
2 days ago