Saturday, September 29, 2012


All the talk of "falling" -- of leaves and of lives -- in Rainer Maria Rilke's "Autumn" got me to thinking about one of my favorite poems by Derek Mahon.  The poem has appeared here previously, but, as I have noted before, I am not averse to circling back on my tracks.  My rationalization is (I fear that I am repeating myself again):  we are never the same person that we were the last time we read a particular poem.  You cannot step into the same river twice, or something along those lines.  At least I hope so.

                                     Henry Lamb, "Tea Things" (1932)


The prisoners of infinite choice
Have built their house
In a field below the wood
And are at peace.

It is autumn, and dead leaves
On their way to the river
Scratch like birds at the windows
Or tick on the road.

Somewhere there is an afterlife
Of dead leaves,
A stadium filled with an infinite
Rustling and sighing.

Somewhere in the heaven
Of lost futures
The lives we might have led
Have found their own fulfilment.

Derek Mahon, The Snow Party (Oxford University Press 1975).

                       Thomas Henslow Barnard (1898-1992), "Still Life"

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