I heard Harold Pinter reading from ‘Cancer Cells’ at Edinburgh a few years ago; stood in line to shake the man’s hand afterwards, for the trenchant remarks he’d made criticising Blair’s policy on Iraq.
Heh. That makes four Nobel laureates whose paws I’ve patted, which is a strange and bizarre factoid of no possible interest to anyone but the Babu.
Anyway, here’s ‘Cancer Cells’, the first poem the newest Nobel Literature Prize winner wrote after his battle with the disease.
“Cancer cells are those which have forgotten how to die”.
(Nurse, Royal Marsden Hospital)
They have forgotten how to die
And so extend their killing life.
I and my tumour dearly fight.
Let’s hope a double death is out.
I need to see my tumour dead
A tumour which forgets to die
But plans to murder me instead.
But I remember how to die
Though all my witnesses are dead.
But I remember what they said
Of tumours which would render them
As blind and dumb as they had been
Before the birth of that disease
Which brought the tumour into play.
The black cells will dry up and die
Or sing with joy and have their way.
They breed so quietly night and day,
You never know, they never say.
Harold Pinter, March 2002