(William Ernest Henley)






In Hospital. 5. Operation


You are carried in a basket,
   Like a carcase from the shambles,
   To the theatre, a cockpit
   Where they stretch you on a table.

Then they bid you close your eyelids,
   And they mask you with a napkin,
   And the anæsthetic reaches
   Hot and subtle through your being.

And you gasp and reel and shudder
   In a rushing, swaying rapture,
   While the voices at your elbow
   Faderecedingfainterfarther.

Lights about you shower and tumble,
   And your blood seems crystallising
   Edged and vibrant, yet within you
   Racked and hurried back and forward.

Then the lights grow fast and furious,
   And you hear a noise of waters,
   And you wrestle, blind and dizzy,
   In an agony of effort,

Till a sudden lull accepts you,
   And you sound an utter darkness . . .
   And awaken . . . with a struggle . . .
   On a hushed, attentive audience.






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