Oh Whistle and I’ll Come, My Lad


A space between the sky and death

Where tides leave tracings of belief,

And words can summon or dissolve

The science of our solid world.


That space, in which the phantoms play

With fragile games and fickle minds,

Conventions, platitudes and thoughts

Are shaken from its nightmare’s breath.


And last when shards of safety shred,

We’re left an awful truth to face:

The nameless horror on the beach

Which twists and turns and tightens on.


The space in which we all are thrown:

We walk, we sleep, we die alone.



(based on the story by M.R. James)


3 Comments to “Oh Whistle and I’ll Come, My Lad”

  1. We walk, we sleep, we die alone. Indeed we do. You lead us to that fact, however, so lovingly.

  2. What an outstanding poem! Amazing rhythm, so profound!

  3. The above commentator highlighted the final line (which I agree is great), but I’ll say that my favorite is “the nameless horror on the beach” which fits the James story perfectly. I think M.R. would be pleased by your poem. He’s a vastly overlooked ghost story writer. I’ve talked about him in a regular review form before, but I like that you’ve done it in a different way with a poem in homage to him.

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