Samuel Beckett's Dublin

By Donald Davie 1922–1995 Donald Davie
When it is cold it stinks, and not till then.
The seasonable or more rabid heats
Of love and summer in some other cities
Unseal the all too human: not in his.
When it is cold it stinks, but not before;
 
Smells to high heaven then most creaturely
When it is cold. It stinks, but not before
His freezing eye has done its best to maim,
To amputate limbs, livelihood and name,
Abstracting life beyond all likelihood.
 
When it is cold it stinks, and not till then
Can it be fragrant. On canal and street,
Colder and colder, Murphy to Molloy,
The weather hardens round the Idiot Boy,
The gleeful hero of the long retreat.
 
When he is cold he stinks, but not before,
This living corpse. The existential weather
Smells out in these abortive minims, men
Who barely living therefore altogether
Live till they die; and sweetly smell till then.

Donald Davie, "Samuel Beckett’s Dublin" from Selected Poems. Copyright © 1985 by Donald Davie.  Reprinted by permission of Carcanet Press, Ltd.

Source: Selected Poems (Carcanet Press Ltd, 1985)

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Poet Donald Davie 1922–1995

Subjects Living, Disappointment & Failure, The Body, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

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Biography

Donald Davie was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire, to George Clarke and Alice Sugden Davie, received his early education at Barnsley Holgate Grammar School, and spent his boyhood in “the industrially ravaged landscape,” as he called it, of the West Riding. As a Northerner, he has said that in literature he grew to like “the spare and lean.” From his mother, who had a liking for poetry and knew, according to Davie, “the greater part, . . .

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SUBJECT Living, Disappointment & Failure, The Body, Arts & Sciences, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries, Cities & Urban Life

Poetic Terms Refrain, Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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