Waiting, Sadly

For Keats

I’m waiting, sadly, for a guest to come:
What hour defeats me and how I don’t know.
But come he will, like some ghost to his own,
And when he knocks I’ll answer him and go.
The door will open, and the warm air out,
Such draught will in as makes me cold, and then,
Resistance gone, I’ll get his drift, and doubt
My whole household were worth the living in:
Resigned to him, his presence dominates
In ways no other ever happened to;
His person storms my being, though I hate;
Yet hate, too, as his host, I must forego.

Defenceless, human still, and still it’s late,
My mind coughs blood and strives to concentrate.


Could I But

Could I but see that face I’d know
So deep inside me beauty lives,
And all the ugliness I’ve done
Would be reformed, informed by love.

Could I but hear that voice of His –
Like some bell sounding well below
The walled resistance of my mind –
At last I would obey His law.

Could I but feel His touch on me
My sickness would be swept out clean –
The fever broken – shame flushed free –
And I would be a child again.


James Sale is a motivational speaker and poet in the United Kingdom.

Featured Image: “Portrait of John Keats” by William Hilton (1786-1839).

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2 Responses

  1. Pamela

    I just read your essay, “The Poet as Maker” in the Society of Classical Poets Journal. It referenced your poem “”Could I But” which I had to find online and read. It is a lovely beautiful poem. I love the title and it is indeed a real and special poem. It speaks to me.

  2. james sale

    Hi Pamela – thank you so much for your generous response – it means a lot to me. At the end of the day, as poets, the most we can want to achieve is to find that reader – plural hopefully – for whom the poem really speaks. And when it really speaks, then there is every chance it will spark off a poem in the reader. It is often other poets who have lit my imagination and emotions and enabled me to create something new myself. So thank you again. My most recent poetry collection is Inside the Whale, available on Amazon, which is a metaphor for my being in hospital and surviving cancer, and if you like Could I But, then I think you will like this collection too. Please review me if you do!! Thanks again.


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