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September 2008

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December 2020

The Last Regatta

Maurice Harmon

ISBN: 1 903392 08 X

Page Count: 80

Publication Date: Sunday, April 01, 2001

About this Book

Maurice Harmon's poetry ranges from recreations of an idyllic pastoral world on the Ardgillan estate in north County Dublin to memories of psychological numbing at boarding school to scenes of intellectual and sexual challenges and confusions at University College, Dublin. These local settings and experiences contrast with lyrics about the mystery and beauty of Japanese culture and the mythopoeic sequences in A Stillness at Kiawah. One of these draws analogies between the experience of the native American Kiowas and the Irish experience of similar injustice and dispossession; the other explores the cruelties and intensities of a sexual relationship in a post-colonial world.

Author Biography

Maurice Harmon, Emeritus Professor of Anglo-Irish Literature at University College Dublin, is a distinguished critic, biographer, editor, literary historian, and poet. He has edited No Author Better Served. The Correspondence between Samuel Beckett and Alan Schneider (1998) and has translated the medieval Irish compendium of stories and poems The Colloquy of the Old Men (2001). He has written studies of several Irish writers, including SeŠn O'FaolŠin, Austin Clarke, and Thomas Kinsella and edited the ground-breaking anthology Irish Poetry After Yeats. His Selected Essays (2006) contains articles on William Carleton, Mary Lavin, John Montague, and contemporary Irish poetry. A study of Thomas Kinsella as poet and translator, Thomas Kinsella. Designing for the Exact Needs, was published in March, 2008. His poetry collections include The Last Regatta (2000), The Doll with Two Backs and other poems (2004) and The Mischievous Boy and other poems (2008).

Read a sample from this book

The Last Regatta

Beside the tiny pool beside the house
I sometimes pause these late November days
to watch maple leaves flaring down

to clear water and there upheld awhile,
red incorrigible sails that seek and find
the slightest breeze for one final run.

Although no warnings here of gale-force winds
relay the ending of their carefree days
they are sinking slowly, water-logged,

and swirling gently, listing into silt,
minute pyres burning softly down.
It is a good way to go, trim

and tidy as they furl stricken sheets,
tighten lines, prepare for wet dock.
They've had their seasons and their seasons' days,

have hoisted tapestries to catch the breeze,
have known beauty in this temperate place
where a stone lantern keeps constant watch.

They are ending passage now in their own way,
in their own time, untouched by human hand,
unhurried, unshaken, beyond the reach of man.

Letter to My Daughter

The cold up north drove them back at us.
They slithered across the path beside our feet,
burst through screens, breaking and entering.

The place so musty we slept on the gallery floor,
conscious of timber racked behind our heads,
of rustling, slitherings along the roof.

Silence stopped me when we came back here.
Sevenday locusts no longer had hysterics,
no longer blundered from the cherry trees.

Spider hammocks sagged like fallen floors
in disused rooms. Sated dragon flies
no longer rode with swallows or with bats.

When you told me your friend was dead,
that was the seasons final emptying,
good days drained, cold along the boards.

The Return

I sit by the pond
in the spell of ripple and fly

stand under trees
in the poignancy of leaves

lie offshore
in the fluency of stems

feel the stone's tremor
in the drain of waves

see pitch and stress
in the spider's web

find conclusions
in a grain of sand

discover an air
coldly sufficient

as the avenue of yew

(Copyright Maurice Harmon 2000.  All Rights Reserved.)

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