At the Window

Derek Mahon

The bird flying up at the windowpaneaspired to the blue sky reflected in itbut learned the hard truth and flew off again.Was it a finch, a blue tit or a linnet?I couldn’t quite identify the strain.Checking a pocket guide to get it right(The Birds of lreland, illustrated text)I note the precise graphic work and definitedescriptions there, and yet I’m still perplexed.I only glimpsed the bird in busy flight:a bit like a goldfinch, like the captive oneperched on a rail, by Rembrandt’s young disciple,except for the colouring, blue, yellow and green.A tit so, one of those from the bird tablewho whirr at hanging nuts and grain.Off he flew. Now there’s a mist out thereand a mist in here that wouldn’t interest himsince what he wants is sky and open air.He’s in the trees; I’m trying one more timeto find an opening in the stratosphere.

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Derek  Mahon

Derek Mahon was born in Belfast in 1941 and now lives in Kinsale, County Cork. He has received numerous awards including the Irish Academy of Letters Award and the Scott Moncrieff Translation Prize. Recent titles—all from The Gallery Press—include Harbour Lights (2005), New Collected Poems (2011), and Echo’s Grove (translations, 2013). The Rain Bridge (a story for children, with illustrations by Sarah Iremonger), Rising Late (a limited signed edition, with drawings and paintings by Donald Teskey), and Olympia and the Internet (prose) were published in 2017. (Author photo by John Minihan)

‘You thought you’d done.’ Against the Clock, a surprising and exciting development, brings together Derek Mahon’s recent work — that is, since New Collected Poems. These new poems, some autobiographical, most written in the space of a year, concern themselves with age and time, ‘the mere fact of existence’ and the creative principle itself. One of the finest contemporary poets, the author here demonstrates once again an unfailing poetic energy — ‘still singing, still going strong.’

“Derek Mahon’s new volume of poems again proves him one of the greatest contemporary masters of poetic form. Preoccupied as he is with his advancing age and the “final deadline” looming in the future, the suppleness and subtleness of his flexible rhythms and rhymes keep the subject from becoming ponderous. Mahon knows all about the dark side of life, but has an extraordinary ability to set his style against it, as it were, so that his formal ingenuity provides a counterweight.”
—Magdalena Kay

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