Wednesday 18 July 2018

A Break in the Journey: New steps on life's journey of ideas, humanity and love

ELOQUENCE: Anne Haverty. Photo: David Conachy
ELOQUENCE: Anne Haverty. Photo: David Conachy

Infused with love, pathos, history and ideas, A Break in the Journey, Anne Haverty's new collection of poetry, is a moving exploration of the many kinds of journeys on which life takes us. Derek Mahon says Anne is "a singing voice for 'our dejected age'".

Anne has travelled great distances in intellectual curiosity, as well as in the world, and traces her tracks with superb eloquence, simplicity and a piercing humanity as is shown in the two examples of her work republished here. Anne dedicates her collection "For Anthony Cronin, beloved, as ever" in tribute to her husband, the renowned poet and intellectual, who died at the end of 2016.

Poemless

 

What a poem

you could have made

that night —

preparing to retire

in a grim impasse

somewhere around Chatelet les Halles.

 

Between the restaurants’

kitchen entries, dingy and neon-lit,

and the noisome waste-bins reeking of fish,

you had made your bed, laid out white sheets on the ground.

 

Foraging in the blanket

you found your hairbrush and swept your hair.

Not quite the hundred strokes

the beauty-books advised

but half at least.

And then your nightgown,

demurely pink. Quaintly

modest you shimmied in, and sighed and composed

yourself for sleep,

resigned as a guest

in a bad hotel — after

giving us two, when you looked over and found us watching,

the two fingers.

 

Sales voyeurs! Chiants!

 

We felt the shame —

though we might protest as well

that the rules of etiquette

are not clear as yet

regarding our unhoused.

And you presenting

for all we knew

a public

display of performance art.

 

But look, it never would

come off, that poem of you.

 

It lacked a room,

a basin,

a real bed.

 

The Dog Will Not Take Gloom

 

The dog will not take gloom,

he refuses to look on a melancholy face.

 

If I indulge in despondency or tears,

he who lies constantly at my feet

and leads the way from room to room,

takes himself off

to the neutral area of the stairs.

 

In fairness it works both ways. He

hides his own woes, nurses in secret

a paw or a tooth.

It may be a principle of his

that suffering is done in solitude.

 

Subscribing apparently to that pop belief

in positive thought, doggedly

he may know best.

Confined to cheerfulness I

find it somehow in that or this.

 

'A Break in the Journey' by Anne Haverty (New Island, €13.95)

Sunday Independent

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