Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Last year, just before Christmas, I was privileged to hear Irish poet Louis de Paor recite this poem in Christchurch Cathedral. Here it is for yiz all.

The Singer

These two here in front of me
think he’s singing to only them

when he plays a loving lament,
their fingers ache to be home

where they can play on each
other till morning. The lonely

and old flames are amazed
a man they’ve never met

has the broken tunes of their dreams
off by heart on the tip of his tongue.

When he touches the strings
that tied them together the first time

ever, the married couple in the corner
move closer in spite of themselves.

When the sleeve of the man’s shirt
brushes his wife’s shoulder, a young fella

at the other end of the room
takes off his summer jumper and asks the barman

to turn the heat down for God Almighty’s sake.
The girl made lovely by sorrow prays

he’ll never rest until he finds her.
Outside, a fleet of sirens storms the night,

squadcars, ambulances and fire-brigades
running from the fire that can’t be put out

in the smoldering hearts of the men inside
who are late again for the neverending funeral.

Beside the bridge, the morse code
of loneliness broadcast on flurries

of air is clear as day to the man
who has just jumped. The water is smooth

as a sheet and he is deaf to the world
as the music fills his mouth,

washing away a world of worries.
The singer keeps on strumming

the strings that stretch from the heart
to the mouth of his guitar.

His cry is soft as the river, a blanket of water
drawn up over all our sleepy heads.

Thanks for this poem; I've dealt with Louis De Paor a few times (we work in the same place) and he seems like a decent sort. Fine writer too.
Hi Liff,
nice piece by Louis de Paor - which makes me want to go and read some more! Thanks for sharing.
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