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Change of Domicile
  1. Clive James
  1. Correspondence to John Birtwhistle, English and Related Literature, University Of York, YO10 5DD, UK; birtwhistle{at}

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By Clive James (1939-)

Installed in my last house, I face the thought

That fairly soon there will be one house more,

Lacking the pictures and the books that here

Surround me with abundant evidence

I spent a lifetime pampering my mind.

The new place will be of a different sort,

Dark and austere, and I will have to find

My way along its unforthcoming walls.

Help is at hand here should I fall, but there

There will be no-one to turn on the lights

For me, and I will know I am not blind

Only by glimpses when the empty halls

Lead me to empty rooms, in which the nights

Succeed each other with no day between.

I may not see my tattered Chinese screen

Again, but I shall have time to reflect

That what I miss was just the bric-a-brac

I kept with me to blunt my solitude,

Part of my brave face when my life was wrecked

By my gift for deceit. Truth clears away

So many souvenirs. The shelves come clean.

In the last, the truly last house there will be

No treasured smithereens to take me back

To when things hung together. I'll conclude

The way that I began so long ago:

With nothingness, but know it fit for me

This time around, now I am brought so low,

Yet ready to move soon. When, I can't say.

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