Biography of Derek Mahon
Derek Mahon (born 23 November 1941) is a Northern Irish poet. He was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Mahon was born the only child of Ulster Protestant working class parents. His father and grandfather worked at Harland and Wolff while his mother worked at a local flax mill. During his childhood, he claims he was something of a solitary dreamer, comfortable with his own company yet aware of the world around him. Interested in literature from an early age, he attended Skegoneill Primary school and then the Royal Belfast Academical Institution.
At Inst he encountered fellow students who shared his interest in literature and poetry. The school produced a magazine to which Mahon produced some of his early poems. According to the critic Hugh Haughton his early poems were highly fluent and extraordinary for a person so young.
Derek Mahon Poems
I lie and imagine a first light gleam in the bay After one more night of erosion and nearer the grave, Then stand and gaze from the window at break of day As a shearwater skims the ridge of an incoming wave;
From Decadence: 7 — An Bonnán Buí
A heron-like species, rare visitors, most recent records referring to winter months . . . very active at dusk. —Guide to Irish Birds A sobering thought, the idea of you stretched there, bittern, under a dark sky, your exposed bones yellow too in a ditch among cold stones, ice glittering everywhere on bog and river, the whole unfortunate country frozen over and your voice stilled by enforced sobriety — a thought more wrenching than the fall of Troy because more intimate; for we'd hear your shout of delight from a pale patch of watery sunlight out on the mud there as you took your first drink of the day and now, destroyed by thirst, you lie in brambles while the rats rotate. I'd've broken the ice for you, given an inkling; now, had I known it, we might both be drinking and singing too; for ours is the same story. Others have perished — heron, blackbird, thrushes — and lie shivering like you under whin-bushes; but I mourn only the bittern, withdrawn and solitary, who used to carouse alone among the rushes and sleep rough in the star-glimmering bog-drain. It used to be, with characters like us, they'd let us wander the roads in wind and rain or lock us up and throw away the key — but now they have a cure for these psychoses as indeed they do for most social diseases and, rich at last, we can forget our pain. She says I'm done for if I drink again; so now, relieved of dangerous stimuli, as peace with my plastic bottle of H2O and the slack strings of insouciance, I sit with bronze Kavanagh on his canal-bank seat not in ‘the tremendous silence of mid-July' but the fast bright zing of a winter afternoon dizzy with head-set, flash-bulb and digifone, to learn the tao he once claimed as his own and share with him the moor-hen and the swan, the thoughtless lyric of a cloud in the sky and the play of light and shadow on the slow commemorative waters; relax, go with the flow.
Spring in Belfast
Walking among my own this windy morning In a tide of sunlight between shower and shower, I resume my old conspiracy with the wet
(after Saba) Anyone watching you in the water would think: ‘A siren!' Winner in the women's swimming event, you seem strange on the screen of my inglorious life.
The bright drop quivering on a thorn in the rich silence after rain, lute music in the orchard aisles,
Noon at St. Michael's
Nurses and nuns — their sails whiter than those of the yachts in the bay, they come and go
(for Seamus Heaney) First time out I was a torc of gold And wept tears of the sun.
A Garage in Co. Cork
Surely you paused at this roadside oasis In your nomadic youth, and saw the mound Of never-used cement, the curious faces,
The Dream Play
What night-rule now about this haunted grove? The spirits have dispersed, the woods faded to grey from midnight blue
Dawn at St. Patrick's
There is an old statue in the courtyard that weeps, like Niobe, its sorrow in stone.
(for James Simmons) 1 I wake in a dark flat To the soft roar of the world.
After the Titanic
They said I got away in a boat And humbled me at the inquiry. I tell you I sank as far that night as any Hero. As I sat shivering on the dark water
The Thunder Shower
A blink of lightning, then a rumor, a grumble of white rain growing in volume, rustling over the ground,
Courtyards in Delft
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
After the Titanic
They said I got away in a boat
And humbled me at the inquiry. I tell you
I sank as far that night as any
Hero. As I sat shivering on the dark water
I turned to ice to hear my costly
Life go thundering down in a pandemonium of
Prams, pianos, sideboards, winches,
Boilers bursting and shredded ragtime. Now I hide
In a lonely house behind the sea