December 2010


Ring out, wild bells, to the wild sky,
   The flying cloud, the frosty light:
   The year is dying in the night;
Ring out, wild bells, and let him die. (more…)

A small country has fewer people

Though there are machines that can work ten to a hundred times faster

than man, they are not needed.

The people take death seriously and do not travel far.

Though they have boats and carriages, no one uses them.

Though they have armour and weapons, no one displays them.

Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.

Their food is plain and good, their clothes fine but simple,

their homes secure;

They are happy in their ways.

Though they live within sight of their neighbours,

And crowing cocks and barking dogs are heard across the way,

Yet they leave each other in peace while they grow old and die.

A great country is like low land.

It is the meeting ground of the universe,

The mother of the universe.

The way weeds and stiff grasses have reclaimed the yard,
the way the tracks lead frankly nowhere;
the dry rust, the continuous mockery
of insects, of birds; the way the toolsheds
could still be nothing but toolsheds
even without their tools, with their corners smelling of
shame (more…)

It is December in Wicklow:
Alders dripping, birches
Inheriting the last light,
The ash tree cold to look at. (more…)

There we were in the vaulted tunnel running,
You in your going-away coat speeding ahead
And me, me then like a fleet god gaining
Upon you before you turned to a reed (more…)

Pieter de Hooch,1659

(for Gordon Woods)

Oblique light on the trite, on brick and tile–
Immaculate masonry, and everywhere that
Water tap, that broom and wooden pail
To keep it so. House-proud, the wives
Of artisans pursue their thrifty lives
Among scrubbed yards, modest but adequate.
Foliage is sparse, and clings. No breeze
Ruffles the trim composure of those trees. (more…)

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