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JOHN WAKEMAN

 

John Wakeman

John Wakeman has published two books of poetry, most recently A Sea Family: New and Selected Poems (Bradshaw Books, 2005).  He co-founded and for twelve years co-edited the UK poetry magazine The Rialto. Having moved to Ireland, he founded THE SHOP: A MAGAZINE OF POETRY in 1999. For an American publisher, he has edited major reference books on contemporary world literature and on world film directors. He has also published short stories, essays and reviews, and given talks on RTÉ and the BBC. He was also a consultant contributor to the Encyclopaedia of Ireland.

 

 

Last Light Over Europe

 

(Celebration at sunset on December 31st, 1999, at Mizen Head,

West Cork, Ireland's most southwestern point)

 

The sun like an old shield

thrown away in flight

slips under the tilting unremarking sea

without a ripple, and we sigh.

 

We all of us sigh, a thousand sighs as one

for such a ruthless drowning of the light

and all the dark nights these fields

have known in a thousand stony years.

 

But then from the cliff's black edge

a firework rises, sprinkling the sky

with light again. And so we sigh for that,

then for its quick snuffing out.

 

The rocket, dying,

leaves a thumb of smoke

that falls and drifts and blows away.

Deirín dé. Deirín dé.

 

That's the refrain from some old lullaby

we had read out to us just now.

'Deirín dé. Deirín dé.

If he'll sleep sound till round of day.'

 

Deirín dé. Deirín dé. Some say

it means the last wisp of smoke

from a burning stick in a children's game.

'Moon will rise and sun will set. Deirín dé.'

 

No moon yet, though the sun's gone down

on the last of a thousand years.

You can hear the sea, as we drift away,

Deirín dé. Deirìn dé.

 

May we sleep sound till round of day.

 

©2010 John Wakeman

 

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