Sunday, 8 May 2011


for Patrick Kavanagh

He sits between the doctor and the law,

Neither can help. Barbiturate in paw
one, whiskey in paw two, a dying man:
the poet down, and his full caravan.
They laugh and they mistake the lash that lurks
in his tongue for the honey of his works.
The poet is at bay, the hounds baying,
dig his grave with careful kindness, saying :
‘Another whiskey, and make it a large one !’
Priests within, acolytes at the margin
the red impaled bull’s roar must fascinate -
they love the dead, the living man they hate.
They were designing monuments - in case -
and making furtive sketches of his face
and he could hear, above their straining laughs,
the rustling foolscap of their epitaphs.

Michael Hartnett

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