Featured Poem

Friendship


Your beard was always thick and jetblack.
One morning in the Galway B and B
you showed me how to soften up the incipient growth
on my own face with water first
before shaving it with the blade.
You are broken now, on a bench in a human dump
like a pair of old trousers discarded in the corner.

It's your darkness that first comes back to mind
in the hospital, visiting you by bike one afternoon.
I am ashamed of my togetherness in your presence.
The patients are playing ping-pong with the fragments of your head;
one pane is missing from the beehive window
and a patient in his underpants sticks his hand through it every couple of minutes.

You say you are missing Beethoven.

They won't let us out to walk in the garden -
afraid no doubt the flowers might catch schizophrenia
and scream at Wordsworth at the top of their voices -
and I am ashamed again when you say fervently
that you 'd like me to get you a piano in the asylum
so you could spend your days fingering
the terrible silent notes of solitude.

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About the translation:
Poet:
Liam Ó Muirthile
Translator:
Bernard O'Donoghue
Original language:
Irish
Issue:
Series 3 No. 1 - Introductions

About the author

Liam Ó Muirthile

Original poet

Liam Ó Muirthile

Liam Ó Muirthile is a Cork-born writer currently living in Dublin.

Side by side with the poetry written in English as part...

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Bernard O'Donoghue

Translator

Bernard O'Donoghue

Bernard O'Donoghue is a leading Irish poet, critic and medieval scholar. He was born in Cork in 1945 and moved to England in 1...

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