A Poem For Saturday

Andrew Sullivan —  Jan 17 2015 @ 9:05am

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Dish poetry editor Alice Quinn writes:

Michael Longley’s The Stairwell, just published by Wake Forest Press, the premier publisher of Irish poets in America, is his thirteenth collection. He has also edited 20th Century Irish Poems and selections of the work of some of his favorite poets—among them Louis MacNeice, Brendan Kennelly, and Robert Graves, and he is the author of a winning memoir, Tuppeny Stung. He is a superb elegist and his poems about birds, children, and the natural world – exquisitely delicate – are among his most enchanting, often just four lines long, or two.

We’ll start with four of these shorter poems:

“Maisie at Dawn”:

Wordless in dawnlight
She talks to herself,
Her speech-melody
A waterlily budding.

“Wild Raspberries”:

Following the ponies’ hoof-prints
And your own muddy track, I find
Sweet pink nipples, wild raspberries,
A surprise among the brambles.

“Hailstones”:

at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, Berlin

It must have been God, or rather, Yahweh
Who scattered the granite slabs with hailstones
And threw them from His Hand so accurately
Not one Jew was uncommemorated.

“The Frost”:

They kept you refrigerated for days, my twin.
I kissed your forehead where the frost was fading.

(From The Stairwell © 2014 by Michael Longley. Used by permission of Wake Forest University Press. Photo by Jenny Downing)