… (to paraphrase Yeats), as I looked around for language about tea in order to honor the first International Tea Day,
I finally remembered “Lament” by Thom Gunn. One of the most beautiful AIDS-era poems, it recalls the long sad death of a friend, and among its lines are these:
… Your cough grew thick and rich, its strength increased.
Four nights, and on the fifth we drove you down
To the Emergency Room. That frown, that frown:
I’d never seen such rage in you before
As when they wheeled you through the swinging door.
For you knew, rightly, they conveyed you from
Those normal pleasures of the sun’s kingdom
The hedonistic body basks within
And takes for granted—summer on the skin,
Sleep without break, the moderate taste of tea
In a dry mouth.