Treasure Island

Roger McGough

(November 9 - 1937 / Liverpool / England)

Let Me Die A Youngman's Death


Let me die a youngman's death
not a clean and inbetween
the sheets holywater death
not a famous-last-words
peaceful out of breath death

When I'm 73
and in constant good tumour
may I be mown down at dawn
by a bright red sports car
on my way home
from an allnight party

Or when I'm 91
with silver hair
and sitting in a barber's chair
may rival gangsters
with hamfisted tommyguns burst in
and give me a short back and insides

Or when I'm 104
and banned from the Cavern
may my mistress
catching me in bed with her daughter
and fearing for her son
cut me up into little pieces
and throw away every piece but one

Let me die a youngman's death
not a free from sin tiptoe in
candle wax and waning death
not a curtains drawn by angels borne
'what a nice way to go' death

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Tuesday, May 31, 2011

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  • Gangadharan Nair Pulingat (4/6/2014 1:40:00 AM)

    Death the final journey destined to travel by a human being have been the subject of many poets, novelists, and story tellers in different languages. There is no escape route to avoid the final outcome of life and here lies the importance of religion and other philosophies. The good poet expects a journey of death without the agony of long spell in bed using the services of others who might be not interested in their heart to give sufficient care and attention but to thinking for the death of the patient in his old age which makes a burden to them. He opts and wishes death from guns, or such accidents which is amusing to read. Still death is not in our control or beck and call but decides the factor in several other corners and realities. Opting for a sucide or from the gunshot like situations is surely fearful and any how the subject chosen by the poet is very much interested to read and enjoy and words are very apt. (Report) Reply

  • Patricia Northall (3/5/2014 8:57:00 AM)

    I feel this poem shows Roger's Liverpool ancestry, his sardonic humour, and sums up perfectly
    his take on life. I liked it, the verse writing about the gangsters with tommy guns, while in the barber's chair made me smile. Very clever twist on words in good tumour.
    I liked it very much... Pat Northall (Report) Reply

  • Thomas Vaughan Jones (3/1/2014 2:52:00 PM)

    Roger is the master of disguising his real intentions in a plethora of dialogue. He really wants to live to be 110, while maintaining all of the attributes of a twenty year old. My personal ambition, which is much the same as his, is to be shot in the back, (and I emphasise, in the back,) by a jealous husband as I leap OUT of a bedroom window at 4: 30 in the morning. (Report) Reply

  • Valentin Savin (12/10/2013 11:42:00 AM)

    Let's live long and happy, as well as safe and sound all our life. Let it be a 100 or over. (Report) Reply

  • Poem Lover (12/2/2013 10:30:00 PM)

    This poem was not meant to take what those who die young have but rather to state that he doesn't want to be an old man devoid of his passions and slowly sputtering out of existence. I think it is a marvelous poem. Not only is it well written but far from the crude poem that people keep commenting on it is a rebellion against what society expects of him in his ld age. The poem is not just about dying if you look he is talking about how he wants to be living even at his latest years not a wise saint but as he has been, trouble. Basically it is better to burn out than to fade away. (Report) Reply

  • Poem Lover (12/2/2013 10:28:00 PM)

    This poem was not meant to take what those who die young have but rather to state that he doesn't want to be an old man devoid of his passions and slowly sputtering out of existence. I think it is a marvelous poem. Not only is it well written but far from the crude poem that people keep commenting on it is a rebellion against what society expects of him in his ld age. The poem is not just about dying if you look he is talking about how he wants to be living even at his latest years not a wise saint but as he has been, trouble. Basically it is better to burn out than to fade away. (Report) Reply

  • Krishnakumar Chandrasekar Nair (11/8/2013 2:06:00 AM)

    At 114 they would have taken you
    For winking at the city mayors daughter
    Then given a reading from some holy book
    Till you asked for mercy and some water..........

    All ye poets reading this welcome to my page too (Report) Reply

  • Sean Macaulay (8/24/2013 12:33:00 PM)

    In honor of the ever wonderful Roger McGough*:

    Let Me Die a Henry Youngman's Death

    Take my life—please.

    - - - - - - - -

    * I just discovered Henry Youngman was born in Liverpool too. Small world. (Report) Reply

  • Andy Morris (6/23/2013 6:06:00 PM)

    Hang me from
    The highest tree
    If hanging be my destiny
    So at the moment
    That I die
    You'll know I went
    With head held high

    Andy Morris (Report) Reply

  • Warner Treuter (5/8/2013 2:54:00 AM)

    This is an ugly poem a, a stupid poem, a hellish poem - but an artistically, undeniably really damn good poem nevertheless. (Report) Reply

  • Claire Thomas (4/13/2013 2:07:00 PM)

    Il grow old{i hope} but never up.Saw Him at the playhouse recently and was pleasantly suprised.Great to hear itrecieted. (Report) Reply

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