A poem set in Dublin, St Stephen’s Green
those huge black canvases in Newman’s
church, St Stephen’s Green — restoration
botched perhaps — Raphael Cartoons,
copies, loved by Newman, quite gone out.
outside, Joyce’s head, too silver sharp,
too shrunk, facing stone steps he argued up
of the house where Hopkins sweated, found his heart,
his shaping spirit, turned ‘widow of an insight
lost’ (which we know something about).
a pigeon flight above the little lake, dark then white
as they turn as one bird and repeat
black into white (as ruined paint will not)
nine times precisely and like one bird depart.
Strange the fate ?
insight spoiled, wanting rhymes too neat,
whichever way we think, wherever look ?
to snuffle like setters in a winter garden
excitedly nosing old leaves, mortally certain
there is (certainly was — night’s odorous traffic)
something, somewhere, about.
from Something About (Carcanet, 2004), copyright © P J Kavanagh 2004, used by permission of the author and the publisher