Derek Mahon



      The Joycentenary Ode


Aged twenty-odd, I spent
A night straitched
Between blankets on

The cold floor
Of your squat tower,
Gymsoul, my ho head heavy

As yonder stone among
Half-empty rosbif
And electricity glasses.

There I dreamed
The wholething from
Once upon a time

To riverrun, from
Creak of dawn
To crack of doom,

And woke to find
The scrotum-tightening glittering
Like razor-blades.

What can I tell you,
Jerms, where you straitch
In the Flutherin Symatery?

What pome of mine might
Healp aliviate
Youretournal night?

What news of the warld
You loft bihand
Widdamuse you now?

The goodguise bate
the badgoys in
Diturrible fright

That drove you from
Parease to die
In switzocclusion.

And now we have
Emergency fones in coffins
As you proposed.

Everbaddy reads
Your wooks now in
Unlimited eruditions;

And if you niverwan
The Noble Praise,
Well, that reflects upon

Our precontraceptions
About lutherature and erges
Your origeniosity.

Gemsbounder has replaced
Hopalongcarcity
At the Pavlodeograph;

The pap democrisy
You realished has become
Thanew art forrum.

Spundrawers in every
Kirschen! Airwickers
In ivery bahrfrheum!

A noddindog in the rear
Winda of avery carr!
A bonne in overry hoven!

The bairdboard
Bombardment screen
And gineral californucation

Have revolationized
Ourland beyand raggednition.
Nialson came down

A tunderish clap,
Aye-eye in the dust;
And soon there will be

A new ring-roarrrd built
On reclaimed land
Offa manies a strand.

But some things change
So slowly they
Are still there when

Time comes round again,
Like the dark rain
Muttering on the grave

Of the consumptive
Boy from the gas-works
Who died for love.

Gazing wist, folden
Gavriels, aingles of leidt,
We cmome to a place

Beyond cumminity
Where only the wind synges.
Words faoil there

Bifar infunity,
One evenereal stare
Twintwinkling on the sea.

This is the dark aidge
Where the souil swails
With hurtfealt soang,

Hearing the sonerous
Volapuke of the waives,
That ainchant tongue,

Dialect of what thribe,
Throb of what broken heart--
A language beyond art

That not even you,
If you lived
To a hunderd and wan,
Could begin to danscribe.


Derek Mahon, Selected Poems, Penguin
Books, 2006.