Monday, 31 October 2011

O'Connell Bridge, Louis MacNeice and Poetic Echoes

I'm doing a couple of unusual things in this entry: keeping it (relatively) short, and including one of my own poems. Shock horror!

I've been reading Louis MacNeice, who was Anglo-Irish - or an Irishman who spent much of his life in England, or who turned his back on Ireland - depending who you ask. I came across his poem 'O'Connell Bridge', which you can read on this link:


I had an odd feeling when I read this poem which I could not quite explain. Shortly thereafter I realised that it reminded me of a poem which I had written just after moving to London from Dublin, in 2005. I have been reading MacNeice a little bit since university, but I am nearly certain that I had never read 'O'Connell Bridge' before, and certainly not before 2005.

When I wrote my poem, 'Past', I was still sorting out my last year in Dublin both mentally and emotionally, which explains why the content is not the happiest. In any case - my poem was partly inspired by a wind-tossed glimpse of the Liffey river from O'Connell Bridge one night in Dublin, and it seemed to echo some of the images in MacNeice's poem to a surprising extent. Is it just me? You can make up your mind by reading my poem, below. I apologise in advance for the fact that it is definitely not MacNeice.

I have occasionally noticed that certain places (in particular), when taken as poetic subjects, produce similar images from different poets at different times. I don't know if it is coincidence, or a slight intersection of style from poets whose work may have some things in common; or if it is something deeper than that - innate in the place and in the areas of the brain and heart which handle poetry.

PAST (Clarissa Aykroyd)

And when I am years or more beyond
I will still dream the Liffey rising
to drown me, to drink from my mouth.
Those nights I lie outstretched
on O'Connell Bridge, shadow path through metal light.
My friends, the others, walk over, through me,
earth bulges then like sickness
and I roll to meet the river,
sea-smelling, soft mouth gaping
in a green pelt. I could touch its back.
But without hands, will without flesh,
always the Liffey drinks me dry
and the rain gathers in my throat's hollow.
The struggle to waking, the feeling
of tired old August moonlight on me,
the terrible breath bubbling from me.

© Clarissa Aykroyd, 2011. Not to be reproduced without permission.

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