Labuntur et Imputantur

By Ciarán Carson b. 1948 Ciaran Carson
It was overcast. No hour at all was indicated by the gnomon.
With difficulty I made out the slogan, Time and tide wait for no man.
 
I had been waiting for you, Daphne, underneath the dripping laurels, near
The sundial glade where first we met. I felt like Hamlet on the parapets of Elsinore,
 
Alerted to the ectoplasmic moment, when Luna rends her shroud of cloud
And sails into a starry archipelago. Then your revenant appeared and spake aloud:
 
I am not who you think I am. For what we used to be is gone. The moment’s over,
Whatever years you thought we spent together. You don’t know the story. And moreover,
 
You mistook the drinking-fountain for a sundial. I put my lips to its whatever,
And with difficulty I made out the slogan, Drink from me and you shall live forever.

Ciaran Carson, “Labuntur et Imputantur” from Selected Poems. Copyright © 2001 by Ciaran Carson. Reprinted by permission of Wake Forest University Press.

Source: Selected Poems (Wake Forest University Press, 2001)

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Poet Ciarán Carson b. 1948

POET’S REGION Ireland

Subjects Living, Time & Brevity, Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Mythology & Folklore, Ghosts & the Supernatural

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

Biography

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, into an Irish-speaking family, poet Ciarán Carson attended Queen’s University, Belfast. He held the position of traditional arts officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from 1975 to 1998 and was appointed director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University in 2003. Carson is the author of a number of collections of poetry, including The Irish for No (1987), winner of . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Time & Brevity, Love, Break-ups & Vexed Love, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Mythology & Folklore, Ghosts & the Supernatural

POET’S REGION Ireland

Poetic Terms Couplet, Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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