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Best of Irish Poetry 2010
Editor: Matthew Sweeney
Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan
Done Dating DJs
by Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Winner, 2008 Fool for Poetry Competition
Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes
Munster Literature Centre
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Seán 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
Seán Lysaght (Gallery Press Page)
Seán Lysaght's Blog
Review: The Mouth of a River (from Read Ireland)