Derek Mahon

(1941 / Belfast)

Achill - Poem by Derek Mahon

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;
And I think of my son a dolphin in the Aegean,
A sprite among sails knife-bright in a seasonal wind,
And wish he were here where currachs walk on the ocean
To ease with his talk the solitude locked in my mind.

I sit on a stone after lunch and consider the glow
Of the sun through mist, a pearl bulb containèdly fierce;
A rain-shower darkens the schist for a minute or so
Then it drifts away and the sloe-black patches disperse.
Croagh Patrick towers like Naxos over the water
And I think of my daughter at work on her difficult art
And wish she were with me now between thrush and plover,
Wild thyme and sea-thrift, to lift the weight from my heart.

The young sit smoking and laughing on the bridge at evening
Like birds on a telephone pole or notes on a score.
A tin whistle squeals in the parlour, once more it is raining,
Turf-smoke inclines and a wind whines under the door;
And I lie and imagine the lights going on in the harbor
Of white-housed Náousa, your clear definition at night,
And wish you were here to upstage my disconsolate labour
As I glance through a few thin pages and switch off the light.


Comments about Achill by Derek Mahon

  • (2/24/2015 9:53:00 PM)


    I rate Derek Mahon highly as an Irish-English poet. I would like to see more of his poems listed, in particular 'A Disused Shed in Co. Wexford' and quite a few others. (Report) Reply

    1 person liked.
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  • (3/24/2007 10:23:00 AM)


    A delicious banquet of images and word music. (Report) Reply

  • (11/16/2006 2:30:00 AM)


    Beautifully structured poem. My favorite Irish poet. I think he's better than Heaney. -LP (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: solitude, daughter, wind, ocean, son, work, rain, light, water, sea, night, sun



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003



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