Two Poems


‘Beneath the stare of God’s gold burning eye…’

        for and after Brendan Kennelly, on his birthday, 2013
reading those early poems of yours, re-reading them,
evenings after days spent dreaming of poetry,
never writing it, dreaming of writing it, days
deep in dung for fifty-pence an hour
across mean fields rounding sheep, cattle,
never quite believing in a life beyond it….

        Kedrah fields of my depressed youth,
even now it’s hard to forget them, even
now that I can forget them,
now that I’ve learned to make use of wrong,
every necessary curse and lesson….

        Let me return to those fields and recall
Life as it stood then dark before me: let
year on year reverse, undo their bitter piety.


Burton Park, 1719

Bishop, as he’d later be known, Berkeley,
under a tree here, standing out of a summer shower,
returning, as it happens, to his hammock
thrown up in the barn, hastily,
overtured to his pal Percival
(near which is a large, noble park, and in it a stately new house):

‘Burton I find pleases beyond expectation’.
Under another tree, later, by his College room
recollecting: ‘and I imagine it myself at this
time one of the finest places in the world….’
Optics and new theories of vision, ‘a man somewhere
near London was made to see’ having been

blind, from birth, for twenty years.
University matters,
Reason, fellowship, disputation, all
to zero tend in the clear sight of a child’s smile
on a broad May day near Churchtown.
Nights and days of the knight’s knife shining.

Philip Coleman

Philip Coleman’s poems have appeared recently in Cyphers and Icarus and he has work forthcoming in Poetry Ireland Review and can-can. He teaches American literature in the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. His book-length study of John Berryman will be published by UCD Press in 2014.

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