* You are viewing the archive for May, 2019

Derek Mahon, Against the Clock – review

Against the Clock, by Derek Mahon. Gallery Press. 80 pp. €11.95

Life on Earth is my favourite among Mahon’s later collections. Nothing in Against the Clock seems to me as electrifying as that volume’s “Homage to Gaia”, but this too is a remarkably rich work by a mature master.

In the title poem, Mahon is seen spurring himself to write hard and as well as he can against the deadline of death. He describes how he encourages himself to take example from great poets who, whatever their faults in life and art, kept going to the end as writers. Then he describes … Continue Reading

Notes on “Upon Julia’s Clothes”

UPON JULIA’S CLOTHES

Whenas in silks my Julia goes,
Then, then (methinks) how sweetly flows
That liquefaction of her clothes.

Next when I cast mine eyes and see
That brave vibration each way free
O how that glittering taketh me.

My father liked Herrick, and this little poem delighted me in my early teenage years, especially, I think, the last two lines. The mere idea of nakedness was exciting then and there was added spice in the way Herrick combined a feeling of forthrightness (“each way free”) with teasing abstraction (“that brave vibration”, “that glittering”). Somehow the nakedness was the more … Continue Reading