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Austin Clarke
Posted by: Chesil (
Date: May 22, 2003 10:27PM

A much neglected Irish poet overlapping Yeats. I happen to like this and thus have posted it.

On a brown isle of Lough Corrib,
When clouds were bare as branch
And water had been thorned
By colder days, I sank
In torment of her side;
But still that woman stayed,
For eye obeys the mind.

Bedraggled in the briar
And grey fire of the nettle,
Three nights, I fell, I groaned
On the flagstone of help
To pluck her from my body;
For servant ribbed with hunger
May climb his rungs to God.

Eyelid stood back in sleep,
I saw what seemed an Angel:
Dews dripped from those bright feet.
But, O, I knew the stranger
By her deceit and, tired
All night by tempting flesh,
I wrestled her in hair-shirt.

On pale knees in the dawn,
Parting the straw that wrapped me,
She sank until I saw
The bright roots of her scalp.
She pulled me down to sleep,
But I fled as the Baptist
To thistle and to reed.

The dragons of the Gospel
Are cast by bell and crook;
But fiery as the frost
Or bladed light, she drew
The reeds back, when I fought
The arrow-headed airs
That darken on the water.

Re: Austin Clarke
Posted by: RJAllen (193.114.111.---)
Date: May 23, 2003 11:19AM

There's a fine Selected Poems of Austin Clarke in Penguin Books.

Re: Austin Clarke
Posted by: Hugh Clary (
Date: May 23, 2003 11:31AM

Whooshed over my head the first time through. I will have to read it a few more times

And water had been thorned
By colder days

I thought this a strange image, until I remembered seeing ice cube trays in the freezer, with pointed thorns rising from the cubes.

Re: Austin Clarke
Posted by: Chesil (
Date: May 23, 2003 11:36AM

You probably live somewhere balmy where ice or frost never hangs on trees!

Re: Austin Clarke
Posted by: Chesil (
Date: May 23, 2003 11:38AM

It is indeed an excellent tome. Every time I turn to it, I find I enjoy his work more and more.

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