My Second-Best Beds

Flaming June
Flaming June by Frederick Leighton

 My Second-Best Beds

The beds that I’ve slept in, the beds that I’ve known –
Each harder than vapour and softer than stone,
From four-poster boasters to flea-bitten heaps –
I’ve sailed on their billows and sunk in their deeps.
From headboards to bedsteads, from duvets to sheets,
From brass-knobs to tassels, from casters to pleats,
With mattresses lumpy or stuffed to the seams –
They each one and ev’ry are beds of my dreams.

But they never will be perfect –
They’re close, but they never will.
In all my sleeping days alive
In which I ply my greatest skill,
The bliss of never-knowing five ayem
Is never quite as good in them.
However much they rest me,
They are always second-best –
Why climb the hill to Bedfordshire
To lie alone atop its crest ?
The bed I most desire to keep
Is in beside wherever you may sleep.

The beds that I’ve slept in, the beds I’ve called home –
To lie down on eiderdown, horsehair and foam.
From top-bunk to futon, from hammock to cot,
I’ve slept in the worst and the best of the lot.
Springs within pockets and springs within springs,
From the smallest of cribs to the sizes of kings.
A third of our lives is spend under their care,
From a bench in a park to the Great Bed of Ware.

One night, I swear I’ll drift away,
A hundred years a-snore,
And float amid the elves and fay
To where no dreamers dare explore,
And free my delta-waves to play
Where only Nemo came before.
Until I’m tossed upon your shore again,
To share once more your counterpane.
For the perfect place for counting sheep
Is right beside wherever you may sleep.

Read by Edgar, voiced by John Dobson

The title comes from Shakespeare, though not from his plays.

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