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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
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Songs of Earth and Light

Songs of Earth and Light
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HARRY CLIFTON

 

 

 

 

Harry Clifton

Harry Clifton was born in Dublin in 1952, educated at Blackrock College and University College, Dublin and has travelled extensively in Africa, Asia and Europe. The Gallery Press has published five collections of his poems: The Walls of Carthage (1977), Office of the Salt Merchant (1979), Comparative Lives (1982), The Liberal Cage (1988) and The Desert Route: Selected Poems 1973-1988 (1992), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. His chronicle of a year in the Abruzzo Mountains, On the Spine of Italy, was published in 1999, and his stories are collected as Berkeley's Telephone and Other Fictions (2000). Harry Clifton has received the Patrick Kavanagh Award and two Arts Council Bursaries in Literature. He has represented Ireland at the Iowa International Writers' Programme and has been Poet-in-Residence at The Frost Place, New Hampshire. He is a member of Aosdána.


 

 

 

The City

 

 

I will get you in there, disguised as a boy

Among the she-men, the he-women

Seeking to find themselves, with or without joy,

On the thoroughfares of the inter-human,

 

Night-lit, through the noontide of a day

The doomed undress for. Naked philosophers,

Towelling draped like togas, in the corridors,

The cubicles. Dearest, what will you say

 

To the likes of these? Their droll remarks,

Their acid observations thrown like light

Among moans and couplings, orgiastic dark

I buy you into, for your first night

 

In a world so terribly far gone

Your eyes adjust to it slowly, and your nose

Picks up strange odours, you recognise everyone

You have ever known, but without clothes

 

The studied aloofness of the beautiful

In love with themselves. The lonely, the old,

Unwanted…

                    When your cup is full,

When steam-heat, and the knock of pipes in the cold

 

Are summer and winter to you, unbind your breasts,

Your sex, the unrecognised beauty

Of the place, the other life made manifest,

In this, your introduction to the city.

 

 

 

 

©2012 Harry Clifton

 

 

 

Author Links

 

Harry Clifton at Gallery Press (Ireland)

Harry Clifton at Wake Forest University Press (USA)

Poems by Clifton at the Poetry Foundation

Ireland Chair of Poetry: Harry Clifton

 

 

 

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