Deep Ulster

By Harry Clifton b. 1952 Harry Clifton
It was there, the elemental center,   
All the time. Eternally present, repeating itself   
Like seasons, where the times and dates   
For swallows and household fires are written down,   

The grouse are counted, the quotas of stocked rainbows.   
All that love of order, for its own sake.   
Only the hill-farms, and the high sheep country   
Above politics—the enormous relief   

Up there, as the dialect names of skies   
Return, along with their clouds, and the old knowledge   
Opens the mind again. To dream, to just potter   
In the yard, to fiddle with local stations   

In the kitchen, where news that is no news   
Finally, at last, fills up the years   
With pure existence. Lit from beneath   
The fields are evenings long, the tree by the house   

Where Vladimir and Estragon kept vigil   
With the stillness of commando and insurgent   
Frightens no one. Slow through the air   
A heron, shouldering aside the weight of the world,   

Is making for its colonies, coevals   
In a state plantation . . .   
                                  Nowhere but here   
In the high right hand of Ireland, do the weather fronts   
Give way so slowly, to such ambivalent light.

Source: Poetry (March 2009).

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This poem originally appeared in the March 2009 issue of Poetry magazine

March 2009
 Harry  Clifton

Biography

Harry Clifton was born in Dublin and attended Blackrock College and University College, Dublin. His collection of poems, Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks 1994-2004 (2007), won the Irish Times Poetry Now Award in 2008. His other honors include the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award and two Arts Council Bursaries in Literature. He is a member of Aosdána, the Irish artists’ association. Clifton is the author of the poetry pamphlet Null . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION Ireland

Poetic Terms Free Verse

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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