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Seán Lysaght poem in Southword JournalSeán Lysaght was born in 1957 and grew up in Limerick. He was educated at UCD, where he received a BA and an MA in Anglo-Irish Literature. He subsequently spent several years abroad, in Switzerland and Germany, before teaching at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. He now lectures at the Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology and lives with his wife Jessica and his son Seamus in Westport, County Mayo.

In 1985 he was an award winner at the annual Patrick Kavanagh poetry festival. His first collection of poetry, Noah's Irish Ark was published in 1989, followed by The Clare Island Survey (Gallery, 1991; nominated for The Irish Times/Aer Lingus poetry award). Between 1990 and 1994 he lectured in English at St Patrick's College, Maynooth and received a PhD for his work on the life and writings of Robert Lloyd Praeger, subsequently published as Robert Lloyd Praeger: The Life of a Naturalist (Four Courts, 1998). His subsequent collections, Scarecrow (1998) and Erris (2002) and
The Mouth of a River (2007) were published by The Gallery Press. He recently received the 2007 O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry. Venetian Epigrams (Translations after Goethe) was published in June 2008.


Photo © Jan von Holleben



for John and Elizabeth Montague


After the first, a second life stares

Out here across the Bay Of Angels

Under the sun’s blue eyes. The blue waters

Come ashore all day to offer themselves

Endlessly in every wave that rises.

Every mane of glass curls before it falls

To its final gesture, a rush of foam

Slipping back with a sigh from its metronome.


Literature and history have been here,

And the haunted practitioners of art.

They drove these dusty roads in the fifties

Where the strict courtesy of a plaque

Remembers life as a brilliant gesture.

One time we were happy with this remark

But now we want to follow down the cool

Tiling of white steps and enter the pool.


There are few signs of whatever we have been:

A crumpled bathrobe on a ledge, a pair

Of sandals left at the edge of a scene,

Clues put in discreetly by the painter,

With some pathos in the way they were worn

To indicate the life of the bather,

Our only weakness, like Achilles, at the heel,

A mark in leather to prove that this is real.


This coast has its proper tone of feeling,

It has mastered every interference known,

Gone through whatever grief or rage could bring

To reach this space, with a horizon.

Other stages are spread for suffering,

But a mute decorum rules this one,

All it expects of us is that we pay

For time to keep disturbance away.


A tumbling coast with orange and lemon trees,

And ancient olives is offered on this basis

That we have lived enough with pieties

Or at least muddled through in other places

To come here with a harvest of leaves

To look over, admiring the traces

Of a path to an archway, a garden, a door,

And the one room we spent years working for.


©2010 Seán Lysaght



Author Links


Seán Lysaght (Gallery Press Page)

Seán Lysaght's Blog

Review: The Mouth of a River (from Read Ireland)










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