February 10, 2014

The Death of Chatterton by Byron Beynon

after the painting by Henry Wallis (c. 1856 )

He has been dead for over two centuries,
this boy poet parted
from the echoing tide of words.
The lonely candle expires
into smoke as the mournful window
opens towards a natural light.
An anguished debris of paper,
a litter of unrecorded thoughts
beneath his head and the body
stretched on a cold bed.
Life could not afford him.
The painter's eye imagines
a potted plant on the sill,
the living flower
blooms on the cheek of the canvas.
The long red hair,
a vivid coat discarded
on a chair,
the used phial of arsenic
in this city garret.
His lifeless arm
touches the shadow of floor.
A focused image
forged permanently
towards eternity,
after the human show.

Byron Beynon lives in Wales. Recent collections include The Sundial (Flutter Press) and The Echoing Coastline (Agenda Editions).

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