Ireland | 2002
Since the publication of his first book in 1967, Paul Durcan has made satirical, celebratory and extraordinarily moving poetry out of his country’s fortunes and misfortunes. His readings are legendary and each new collection, from his collaboration with Brian Lynch, Endsville (1967), to Daddy, Daddy (winner of the 1990 Whitbread Poetry Prize), Crazy about women (1991) and Greetings to our friends in Brazil (1999) has borne out the truth of Ezra Pound’s dictum that “literature is news that stays news”.
Chernopol 13 May 1914 – Donnini 23 April 1998
For three weeks I have been sitting on the wrought-iron
bench at the stone table in the grove of your linden trees
listening out for you.
What I hear is the tick-tock of the grandfather clock of your
gratitude to your Beatrice,
who after your wanderlust years – few of them fun – gave
you and made you a nest in the valley of the Arno where
you could feel at home, and did, and do, for a night or
Through the uproarious street-life of birds at their feeding
and shopping, I hear your voice calling me from a nearby
café called The Pyramid where, at a wine-red porphyry
tabletop, you sit scribbling in your tattered notebook.
Impatient, but smiling you cry: There is one essential thing
and that is to be polite, not smart.
The day before yesterday, Sunday, the 4th Sunday after Easter,
Le Pen had a big success in France and the one-eyed left-
wing conscience is wailing and swotting the air with
rolled-up copies of Le Monde and Libération. Child of the
Bukovina, excoriator of self-pity and hysteria and self-
righteousness and penny-pinching and nostalgia, you laugh
that hunter’s laugh of yours: Not a capercaillie in sight! It’s
skushno on the hoof all right!
Rezzori, only men of no party like you know how to light
a fire from the ashes of the night. Cheers.