“Detail” by Eamon Grennan

grennanorigI went to hear Irish poet Eamon Grennan last night at the Folger Theater at the Library of Congress. His newest book is Matter of Fact.

It was a wonderful rangy reading that included his favorite poems as well as his own work.

He read the section from Macbeth when Macduff learns that his family is all murdered, “Chaucer” by Longfellow, “The Stolen Boat” by Wordsworth, “Sunday Morning” by Wallace Stevens, and many more.

Grennan concluded with his own poem “Detail.”

by Eamon Grennan

I was watching a robin fly after a finch—the smaller
chirping with excitement, the bigger, its breast blazing, silent
in light-winged earnest chase—when, out of nowhere
over the chimneys and the shivering front gardens,
flashes a sparrowhawk headlong, a light brown burn
scorching the air from which it simply plucks
like a ripe fruit the stopped robin, whose two or three
cheeps of terminal surprise twinkle in the silence
closing over the empty street when the birds have gone
about their business, and I began to understand
how a poem can happen: you have your eye on a small
elusive detail, pursuing its music, when a terrible truth
strikes and your heart cries out, being carried off.

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