Howth: “Water-Burn”

Dateline: Howth, Dublin, Ireland, overlooking the Irish Sea

I’ve been introduced to a new poet today, Belfast’s Michael Longley. Ted Deppe read a wonderful poem titled “Water-Burn.” Longley’s a voracious technical poet imbued with Buddhist tendencies.

After after years of weaving in and out of the politics of Belfast’s Shankill and Falls Roads, which divide the city, Longley moved to the West of Ireland and became fixated on the Irish landscape. “When I go to the West of Ireland,” he said in an interview with poet and teacher Clive Wilmer, “I don’t go there to have colourful talk with the natives. I go there to look at birds and flowers and the beautiful countryside … I think our relationship with the natural world and with the plants and animals is the major issue now.”

Water-Burn

We should have been galloping on horses, their hoofprints
Splashes of light, divots kicked out of the darkness,
Or hauling up lobster pots in a wake of sparks. Where
Were the otters and seals? Were the dolphins on fire?
Yes, we should have been doing more with our lives.

–Michael Longley

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