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Showing posts from 2014

After Borges

1. To a minor poet

Where are the days you spent on earth,
all the joy and anguish
that were your universe?

The river of years has washed them away;
now you survive
as an entry in the index.

Proudly they gather, the gods’ gifts, immortal.
Of you, dark friend, all we know
is that one evening you heard the nightingale.

Walking fields of asphodels, your slighted shade
must think the gods harsh
but the days are a tangle of paltry needs

and is there really a blessing richer
than the ash of which oblivion’s made?
For others the gods kindled

a persistent light: see
how it shines in every crevice, finds every flaw
and in the end shrivels the rose it treasures.

They were kinder to you, brother, passing you by,
leaving you to the nightingale in the garden
in the thrill of a dusk which will never darken.

2. To whoever is reading me

You’re untouchable. Haven’t they told you,
the powers that control your every move,
that dust is certain? Or did you imagine
your stepping into it could slow the r…

A poem from The Rooms

Poem beginning with two lines by André Breton

The wardrobe is filled with linen,
there are even moonbeams I can unfold.
The roof has slipped back on the gables,
old trees march in from the cold.

The wardrobe is filled with linen,
the beds are slept in again.
Out of the air spill table and chairs,
the wine has crept back to the rim.

The wardrobe is filled with linen,
the drawers are packed with days.
The cabinet lies unsmashed in its corner,
there’s a harvest of sun on the floor.

The wardrobe is filled with linen,
the shadows come back to the wall.
They’ve gone to collect the children
from the strangers who stand in the hall.

The rooms are empty and cold,
the drawers are littered with bones.
The wardrobe is filled with linen
no-one can touch or unfold.

This appeared in yesterday's Irish Times but as the formatting got mangled on the Times' website I'm reposting it here. The collection it's taken from, The Rooms, will be published by Gallery Press in November.

Writing the city

I was asked to give a talk for the UCD Scholarcast series on 'If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song', the anthology of poems about Dublin which is this year's choice for 'One City, One Book'.

Here's the opening of the talk. The podcast and pdf are here


Peter Sirr

Writing the City

How do you write about a city? How do you even define a city? A place, a history, geography, sociology, centres and peripheries, monuments and wastelands. A map of possibilities, an elusive map, coming in and out of focus, full of gaps and smudges. City is an abstract word like world or nation or country. You write from your particular apprehension of it, out of your own particular moment. Maybe you don’t write about it at all. From it, out of it. . . I’ve always liked what Roy Fisher said about Birmingham – Birmingham’s what I write with. The city as instrument, mode of exploration, investigation.

‘All cities are geological,’ Ivan Chtcheglov, tells us.

You can’t take thr…